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Where to Begin?

February 27, 2010

Part of the reason I haven’t updated this blog in a few weeks, is that I don’t really know where to begin. I have such a passion to get out there some vital truths that helped me, hoping they might be a blessing to someone.

I also realize that there are blogs, books and websites already up that might be trying to do the same thing. But I want other people who are struggling with their faith to know that there is someone else that has gone through something similar.

So the beginning of my blog may seem confusing. Not really a direction to it. But, I am just going to write, and just get out something. Hopefully, this Hodge podge writing will develop into something a bit more understandable. Till then bare with me. 😉

So I guess I will start in the beginning. Chronological order always seems the best way to start out something. Even reading the Bible that way is the best. (But I will get to that part later)

My parents were both raised in Catholic homes. In my mother’s home, her father was a devout Catholic. Her mother was agnostic, although raised as Episcopalian I believe. But since her father was Catholic and her mother was not, it was considered an unequal yoked marriage. My Grandmother couldn’t marry in the church or in a wedding gown.

My mother was forced to go to Catholic school. I believe it was called ” Pericoal School”. She hated every minute of it. She still loves to tell me stories of all the inconsistencies of the Catholic faith that went on with the school.

When she got to high school she begged her dad to let her go to public highschool. He allowed it. She went through a time of rebellion of “faith” during this time. She married young, to an uncatholic young man, at 18 I believe, and her husband died one week later in training accident.

From there, she went to college in another state, and met my father at her cousins graduation party from college. They married. Dad was in the Navy, and he went to serve his time on ship, and mom was on her own for a while.

She became with child with my brother during one of my dad’s visits home, and while he still aboard ship, she moved back in with her parents because she was just so lonely and pregnant.

When my brother was born, dad’s Navy duty was done, so they settled into married life.

Dad was brought up in a “religious” home. When he married my mom he was Catholic. But he has been everything before that. His mom liked to try out all the churches I guess. 😉 He was forced to become Catholic when he was 16 because his sister was marrying a devout Catholic man. His sister’s fiance entire family had nuns and priests in it. So my aunt had to be Catholic, and so did her family.

Dad went to a Pericoal high school. But I don’t think he bought too much into the Catholic faith. He just “practiced” (if you can call it that) because he was obligated to do so.

So back to him and my mom being married and having my older brother. They wanted to raise my brother right. They decided to go back to church. I believe they even had my brother baptized. But both my mom and dad hated the Catholic church. They both were disillusioned and unsatisfied with it. However they continued on, because, in their minds, it was the right thing to do.

Fast forward a couple more years. My sister is born. She is also baptized into the Catholic church, but Mom and Dad are still feeling unsatisfied. When my sister was about seven or eight months old, a young couple knocked on my parents door.

My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad was working full time and going to college full time. So mom loved to have excuess to visit with people. She looked out her peephole in the door, and noticed the wife of this young couple was very pregnant.

My dad had warned her to just shoo the “Baptists” off when they came knocking on the door by telling them that they were Catholic. But mom just felt so sorry for this lady. Walking around the neighborhood so very pregnant. Well, mom… she decided she would at least be nice when she shooed them away.

She opened the door, and the first thing the man asked her was, “Is your husband a Ham Radio Operator?”
Mom says, “Why yes he is!”
The man says, “I can tell because of the antenna on your house. My father is a missionary in Brazil and I haven’t talked with him for months. Do you think your husband would mind contacting my father and letting me talk with him?”
Mom says, “Sure! You can come over Saturday for supper and he can work it out for you”

So mom invited these “baptists” over for supper before they even asked the famous “IFB” question of soulwinning. Some shooing she did! (Laugh out Loud!)

They chit chatted some more, and then the man asked my mom, “Well, we are training to be missionaries to Brazil as well, and we are going around the neighborhood with a survey. Would you mind answering a few questions?”
Mom’s like, “Sure”

So first question was, “If you were to die tomorrow, are you 100% sure where would spend eternity?”

Mom was taken a back. She wasn’t offended by the question. It was asked honestly, and these people seemed to really like her and care about her. She just never thought about such a thing. So she said,
“I don’t really know. I would like to think heaven. I don’t smoke, and I try to be a good person” When mom tells her story, she doesn’t really tell me what these people said back. I guess they just asked more questions for their survey, and maybe said something about Jesus in there.

But the important thing was…they were coming back on Saturday for dinner! 😉

Dad comes home from work. Mom tells him the “baptists” are coming over for supper and that the man wants to contact his dad in Brazil, after they eat, on his radio.

Dad about blew up. For one the “baptists” were coming. And another thing was, that he told mom it would be almost impossible to reach the man’s father on a whim like that. He would have to write to the guy and let him know a time and bandwidth to meet him on, and obviously there wasn’t anytime to do such a thing before Saturday. Needless to say, dad wasn’t happy with my mother. 😉 And mom said, “Well, they are coming over anyway, so just be nice!”

Saturday came, and after supper, my dad told this guy about the unlikelihood of being able to reach his father, but he would try anyway.

So they walked over to dad’s radio, and dad called the call letters, and right away, this man’s father answered back! My dad was floored!

My dad ends up liking these people and my mom and dad agreed to a Bible Study every weekend with them.

About six weeks later of Bible Study, my mother understood the gospel, and put her faith in Jesus and finished work on the cross. My dad did a few weeks later.

My parents were baptized in a lake, and the missionary couple finished their training and left for the mission field. My parents lost contact with them, and dad got a job in Chicago land, and moved.

Mom and dad were genuine Christians, but sort of flipped flopped in the wind concerning attending chruch. They didn’t really know what kind of churches to attend, so they would visit a church and based upon that particular churches doctrinal statement, they would go there. Sometimes it would be baptist, sometimes, non-denominational, sometimes Alliance, and sometimes, Presbyterian. Sometimes there would be years before attending church again. But they mostly attended Southern Baptist.

I came eight years after they were born again. When I came along they were attending a Southern Baptist Church in the suburbs of Atlanta. My dad was doing very well for himself when I was born. And my parents were at the happiest part of their lives.

I was dedicated to the Lord. I was the first baby to not be baptized. I think that caused a little ruckus with my dad’s mom. But they didn’t care.

When I was barely three years old, we moved to Florida, where Mom and Dad attended an Alliance church. I don’t remember much of that church, but I do remember good, stable family times. I attended Preschool in a Presbyterian church, and loved it.

At almost five years old we moved back to Atlanta, but a different suburb. Mom and Dad couldn’t find a church in the city we lived in that they liked. I sort of floated around attending different churches of my friends after spending the night on Saturday night. I went a Baptist Church, once a Catholic church (which bored me to tears! It reminded me of circus de soleil. (Of Course I didn’t know that at the time, but looking back on the experience, that is exactly what it looked like to me. pomp and circumstance of it all)

And for a five-year old that can be quite frightening!
I remember one Summer going to many Vacation Bible Schools. Our Pentecostal neighbor even had one in her backyard at her house. I remember that one was my favorite. Lots of games, and good stories. But I didn’t get it all. To me it was just fun. Nothing more.

At the end of it all, I saw another neighbor boy carrying a New Testament with a picture of Jesus surrounded by little children on the cover. It was so tiny and cute! I wanted one. I asked him where he got it. He said that he had just gotten saved, and the teachers gave it to him.

By this time the teachers were packing their car up with all their equipment. I didn’t want to miss my chance! So I ran to the teacher and asked her if I could have one of those tiny little cute Bibles. She says, “Oh but dear, we only give them to the children that get saved” So I basically yelled in excited tones, “I want to get saved!”

Well, that must have been the magic words because she about dropped everything, and a big smile spread across her face, and she led me to the porch steps and we sat down. She started asking me a lot of questions. By this time I was getting impatient. I was hungry for lunch and I wanted my Bible. But my mom had taught me to be polite, and I let her ask the questions, and I must have answered them correctly because she said, “Well, let’s pray and ask Jesus into your heart!” So I said, “Ok!” And then she said, “Just repeat after me”

So I did, and I still did not “get it”…I was thinking about food the whole time we were praying. Finally she said Amen. She was crying, and I didn’t know why. I thought she was becoming very strange, because she seemed pretty normal during the week, and now she was crying because I prayed with her. Oh well. I did my part.

She stood up to leave. She must have forgotten about the deal. I get “saved” and I get a bible. So I said, “Mrs. so and so?” She said “Yes Erica?”
“Do I still get the Bible?” I ask as politely as I can muster without sounding impatient
“Oh dear me! I almost forgot! So she walks me up to the car, and hands me the Bible. I say, “Thank you!” and run home. On the way home my best friend saw me with it and asked me about it. I told her the teacher gave it to me, but she would have to be able to pray.

My best friend was supposed to come over for lunch. So she said she would be right over after she talked with the teacher.

When she came over, she had a Bible too. We had matching Bibles! How cute!

My mom told me what date to write in my Bible. It was August 4th, one week before my sixth birthday.

I asked my mom to read to me from that Bible a few times, but it got boring quite quickly. I must have told my mom somewhat of what happened with that teacher. I guess I got the terminology right and told her I got saved and asked Jesus into my heart.

She seemed happy, but the important thing was, I had that cute little New Testament Bible.

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More Background

February 11, 2010

The Reformed Fundamentalist Does an excellent job in presenting the background I came from in the Independent Fundamental World.

He adheres to Reformed Theology, which I don’t (Just had to throw that disclosure in. 😉 ) But despite that, he does an excellent job in describing what’s wrong with the IFB movement in a graceful and kind way.

Like him, I don’t hate individual’s who are involved in the IFB movement. If fact, I am more “IFB” than the Reformed Fundamentalist. But I am more like him than a “true” IFB.

One day I was praying and asking God why he put me in the middle of all of this silliness that is found in the the IFB world. The Lord answered so gracefully, “So I could save you”.

It was a preparation ground to make me ready to see Him, and not the externals. So I am not bitter or angry with the IFB movement. But I am disgusted that it distracts from the simplicity of the Gospel, and I am annoyed at times that individual’s put qualifications on me, and not accept me as Jesus has. At times that hurts.

And I am also aggravated that the movement is so works oriented and present the gospel so badly that there are more false converts thinking that they are OK with God because they went forward in a Church service and “prayed to God”.

Without further ado, please read The Reformed Fundamentalist’s “Story” here and get a better picture of what I went through. His thought processes during that time is so much like mine it is uncanny.

The God I Never Knew Part I
The God I Never Knew Part II

Ps. I made the references that I don’t adhere to reformed theology. There is a very good reason why I don’t. In fact it’s a big part of my own testimony. Which I may blog about in the future.

But… like with the IFB’s there are many good things about reformed theology, and I won’t judge a person’s salvation unless they deny the gospel. Meaning that the Death Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the *ONLY* thing that pleases God. Not good works. Not living the Christian life, etc. And the only thing that qualifies one to receive salvation is the naked trust in what Jesus did for them. And that’s where reformed and evangelicals begin to differ. 😉

Legalism Schmegalism (Part 1)

February 10, 2010

Before I begin writing about this, I would like to preface with this. I am not out to *get* anyone. I am not bitter or angry with the IFB movement (Independent fundamental Baptist). This is based upon my own experiences, and my own opinion that I have formed while seeking the Lord and reading His Word. So if you don’t happen to agree with me, I’d appreciate that you take my mother’s advice. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” 😉

I don’t even know where to begin on writing of this topic. Which is why this post will more than likely turn into a series.

In the Independent fundamental Baptist World (IFB) world, “Legalist” only has one or two definitions.
1. Working for Salvation
2. Adding the traditions of men to the scripture

They scoff at those who would dare call them a legalist for any other reasons than the two definitions listed above. And the second definition is very subjective around the various camps of the IFB movement. What is a “tradition” to one, another can pull all kinds of crazy tricks with the Bible to “prove” that it is a biblical mandate. And Vice Versa.

To deter from the above definition in any direction would make you a lliberal compromise or ecumenical, who doesn’t truly love the Lord and his commands.

Or worse yet, someone who doesn’t even know the Lord as their Saviour.

At least that is what I drew from my experience in an IFB church/college, and famous IFB preacher's writings and sermons.

Now I will say that there are philosophies and thoughts out there that are liberal and ecumenical in the religious world. But it still is just that. "Religion and Religious". Legalism and true Eccumencisim is just the same old dungy poo poo wrapped in a different package.

One can be accepting of every religion and philosophy and be "open-minded" and still have the stinky garment of Jesus-less religion wrapped around their body.

And that is the MAIN thing. You can be absolutely correct 100% in your understanding of biblical moralist (Old fashioned, devil stomping, hell and fire brimstone preaching, KJV only, no woman preachers,pants only for men, long hair for women, no drinking alcohol, no smoking, drugs,only hymn singing with only the piano mind you, soul-winning, and all the other "godly" standards, etc...) and still miss a relationship with Jesus. In other words, you can still go to Hell.

And you can go from a strong IFB devil stomping person, to the other extreme, and go completely haywire and still miss a relationship with Jesus. In other words, you can still go to Hell

There IS a middle ground between legalism and worldly Eccumencisim...and that is The Way, the Truth and the Life; Jesus himself. (John 14:6) And that is the KEY to understanding the differences between leaving "legalism" and not embracing eccumenicism

You see, the movement that I was involved in was so steeped in legalistic religion that I missed the point of the Gospel entirely

Just as Jesus condemned the Pharisees by saying in John 5:39,

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

The Pharisees were so indignant about how they searched the scriptures, and they thought that they had eternal life because they searched the scriptures and followed them religiously. They thought they were pleasing God.
But they missed a very important thing. They missed Jesus! And it was the scriptures that testified of HIM. I honestly can say that was me. I was zealous *about* the Word of God. Zealous of *obeying* God by what he had written in the scriptures.

I was willing to give up everything… and did my very best for the longest of time. But I missed Jesus! Of course I knew he existed. I knew he was someone special. I knew he died on the cross for me. But I didn’t have full understanding

The IFB movement was a stumbling block to me for seeing Jesus.

Romans 10:1-4
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

And that was me. I had a true zeal of God, but it wasn’t according to the correct knowledge. I was ignorant of God’s Righteousness, although I thought I knew it. And I tried to establish my own righteousness…trying to please God through my own efforts. Not to gain salvation, but to prove my salvation to Him, me and those around me. I had not submitted to the righteousness of God, which is Jesus Christ.

Sure I prayed a sinner’s prayer… (which is paramount in someone getting saved. They MUST pray the sinners prayer) In fact I prayed it everyday. Maybe even more. “Just to be sure”.

Thus I was missing the point of Jesus and his purpose here on earth. Which I will get to as time goes on 🙂

So to end “part 1” of my thoughts on legalism.

Legalism is more than working for your salvation. It is more than the traditions of men adding to the Bible. Legalism can also be living the Christian life in the power of your own determination and flesh.

And while I knew in my mind that I couldn’t earn my salvation…and I knew that I shouldn’t add the traditions of men to my life. I got easily confused because these men that say that they aren’t being “traditional” use verses to “prove” their positions. And who am I anyway? A dumb teenager that knows hardly anything.

And I would try harder and harder to live the Christian life according to what I was hearing being preached. I would read the Bible to see if what they were saying was correct, and heck it sounded correct. I was so ignorant it isn’t even funny. And I didn’t know how to help that ignorance. So I went blissfully along. Thinking I knew a lot about the Bible, but actually knowing hardly anything.

As time went on, and the harder I tried to live the Christian life, I would fail. Nothing “major”. But see, I was something that many in the IFB movement aren’t. I was honest. I would bring what they preached full circle, and I found that I was an utter failour. And because I was honest with myself, I was a frequent visitor to the “altar“. And not because I was having premarital s*x…but because I hadn’t read my Bible often enough. Or I wasn’t praying long enough, and always fell asleep. Or I wasn’t leading enough people to the Lord, etc.

And the more honest I was with myself, the more depressed I grew. And the more depressed I grew the worse I thought of myself, and would often doubt if I was truly born again.

And the catch 22 began…..

To be continued….