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Overcoming Flawed View Of God

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

So just a real honest, frank question. How does one overcome a flawed view of God? I was raised to be afraid of God's punishment and His judgement. I was raised not to nag my parents, and that my parents knew what I needed and I was to let them completely make those decisions (my dad really). My dad always ground into my head that if I did not learn life's lessons at home, that God would teach them to me later, and that God's punishments were always worse than Dad's punishments. (Dad's punishments were always miserable enough already. He thought of some doozies.)

I find I cannot stop thinking of God that way. I have a really difficult time feeling God's love...instead I feel like I'm constantly being punished, or about to be punished. I feel like regarding my needs, I will pray one time, and then I honestly think "Well God knows my needs and I trust He will make a decision as to His will in my life. I will be thankful if He chooses to bless me."

Right now I'm going through a tough time but it's really a result of some decisions I made last year that were faulty. I would say a lot of it was just an honest mistake of me trying to make the right decisions, but some of it was that I didn't honestly get down on my knees and pray earnestly. I mean, I did pray.... I felt like it was God's will at the time, but evidently it was not. Now I'm going through some pretty rough times.

I'm having trouble praying about it because I feel like I do not have a right to pray about something that is the result of my own bad decisions. I kind of feel like I'm on my own on this one. As an aside, I told my dad what was going on, and he didn't say much, so I have always been "on my own" when it comes to my dad as well. He does not involve himself much in our lives, unless we ask advice, and then he gives it, and then feels offended if we do not take it for one reason or the other.

So...how do I make myself learn the love of God, and how do I train myself to pray like the importunate woman? (We were raised NEVER to ask my dad something a second time after we asked the first time. Never.) I mean, I know the Bible....I've known it for a couple decades now.... but I just can't shake the feeling that "I've made my bed, now lie in it" sometimes. My husband tells me that isn't the proper view of God, and gets upset with me when I try to explain how I feel....but I can't seem to get past it.

Any ideas?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I am glad your being open about it, and I don't think that it is so much a entirely flawed view of God suzy, it is just a incomplete picture. Take this verse I came across just last night.

"Jeremiah 22:6 For thus saith the LORD unto the king's house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited." God is telling Israel how much they mean to him yet in the same breath he is telling them that isn't going to stop him from punishing them when they really deserve it and are unrepentant about it. 

 

I think the thing you may be struggling with, and it is a not a uncommon struggle, is subconsciously you may feel that you need to live up to a certain set of standards in order to "earn" Gods love and favor. If you fail to dot your i's & cross your t's spiritually you feel like you have failed(which is most likely true) and that God is standing there in wrath keeping track of every failure and sin and saying that will be another "smack" with my spiritual belt. :knuppel:(which is not true) Of course if somebody feels that way they are going to be stressed and miserable because no one ever managed to live up to Gods set of standards and the better a person knows the scriptures the more obvious it will be to them that they are continually sinning in one area or another and are not now nor ever have been what they should be. That can easily lead to misery and depression....   :reaction:

 

That form of the "miserable Christian life" is a easy thing to slip into, and it comes I think from subconsciously trying to establish our own righteousness rather than submitting to the righteousness of God. While we know and accept that we can't earn salvation itself by works we often tend to slip into the mistaken notion that after salvation we earn or fail to earn Gods approval, favor, & or love by our works. Reality is though that salvation is by faith alone and not of works and that proper Christian living and Gods favor comes through faith alone and is not of works either. Good works and righteous living are some of the evidences of having the proper heart toward God they are not in and of themselves the means by which Gods favor is "earned".

 

God is most concerned with the condition of the heart through all scripture, and when a believer is punished by God as a judgement it is ONLY and I repeat ONLY because they do not have a repentant heart about that sin they committed. In that case Gods judgment is for the purpose of bringing them to a place where they can see in their heart the real problem with their sin and thus reach the place where they can actually repent of it or in some cases it is to serve as a warning to others not to do what they have done. If a Christian does have a repentant heart for their sin or failure God does not need to judge them for it. There is no point or anything to be gained from it. Christ paid the price for all their sins so it isn't like the sin needs to be paid for twice. It is forgiven and done with. Consequences of sin are different from Gods judgment though, consequences of sin are the natural result of doing what God said should not be done and many times they are some of the reasons why God doesn't want us to do something in the first place. Consequences for past sin or foolishness is not the same as God's ongoing judgement and sometimes God will reduce, take away, or help us bare the consequences for sins or stupidity of the past if we ask him to do so. 

 

 

God's judgement is like the spanking a kid gets for hitting another kid and "apologizing" when forced in a decidedly "not sorry" voice.

Consequences for sin are more like that same kid biting into a rotten sandwich the next week that the kid he hit put in his lunch box regardless of whether or not he had been punished for it.

 

 

Two different things that happen for different reasons...

Edited by Seth Doty
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  • Moderators

I know you already know this ... but -- read, read, and re-read your Bible.

 

Having said that:

 

If you can grab an extra 30 min/day you might read your NT at a rate that you might use in general reading (whatever you can manage at about 85-95% comprehension). If (for example) you read at 500 wpm you will read the NT in about 2 weeks (the whole Bible would be about 7 wks). Ending Acts after only 7 days keeps Mt still fairly fresh in your mind, ending Jude 5 days later keeps all of the epistles still fresh.

 

Purpose? Obtaining a "Big picture" overview (from Scripture) without the immediate view being either chastisement alone or love alone, neither put on/ put off alone nor forgiveness alone. 

 

Just a thought.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Go ahead and pray even if you feel you don't have the right too. I'm sure God won't get upset. If he doesn't answer than so be it. You do your part then move on. If you get the urge to pray again then do it. 

 

The situation with your father cannot be compared with God. You father is flesh and can only take so much "nagging" and questioning. God can not only take nagging but hear an infinite number of prayers (prayed or not prayed) and questions simultaneously without batting an eye. You are not just a child, but an adult child in God's eyes. So you can approach God as an adult and not think of yourself as a child who is challenging your father's authority.

 

Cast ALL you care upon him for he cares for you. That includes your cares that came about because of bad decisions. 

 

Luke.18

[1] And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
[2] Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
[3] And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
[4] And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
[5] Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
[6] And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
[7] And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
[8] I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Edited by ASongOfDegrees
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I grew up in Methodist Sunday school where I was taught that both the devil and God were constantly looking for an opportunity to "get me" or "zap me". So even after I was saved I still had the mindset that God was just waiting for me to do something wrong so He could hammer me. My Dad was strict when I was growing up, quick to get angry and quick to apply punishment. That example from my Dad, coupled with what I was taught in Methodist Sunday school, really gave me a wrong view of God.

 

It took a long time to get that out of my head so it was no longer the pressing view I had. Even now there are times when I notice a bit of it trying to creep back in.

 

One thing I had to work on was separating my view of God from my view of my Dad. I purposefully took notice of the ways my Dad was not in accord with Scripture, and therefore unlike God, and get to the point of realizing more fully that the bad points of my Dad are not what God is like. At the same time, I looked through the NT to get a good look a God the Father, especially as God and Jesus related. I studied passages of God's great love for us, His compassion, and the mercy and grace He extends to us.

 

My Dad was also one who wasn't much for "giving" or hearing about something I needed or wanted. I had to study the Scriptures with purpose to get it into my head that God specifically wants us to talk with Him, to share our joys, burdens, needs and even wants with Him.

 

Along with all this I tried to listen to good preaching on these topics as much as I could.

 

As suggested above, continually reading through the NT can be a big help, especially if we try to take note of certain things (God's love, matters dealing with praying, etc.) as we read. That worked well for me a few years ago when I seemed to really need to saturate myself with the NT.

 

As always, pray as much as you can, even when you don't feel like it, even if your prayer begins with telling God you don't really feel like praying and don't know what to pray. Remember that Scripture says we are to ask, seek, and knock. This means God not only accepts us bringing our stuff to Him in prayer, He wants us to!

 

Never underestimate the power of others praying for you, and never hesitate to ask for prayer. With regards to this, you are in my prayers.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

That's another question I have about prayer. It seems like the more people praying for you, the more "power" there is. So if you can't get enough people praying for you, is that a less chance your prayer will be answered?

You'd think as a pastor's wife, I'd understand prayer by now.....but sometimes it just seems as elusive as ever!!!!

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

That's another question I have about prayer. It seems like the more people praying for you, the more "power" there is. So if you can't get enough people praying for you, is that a less chance your prayer will be answered?

You'd think as a pastor's wife, I'd understand prayer by now.....but sometimes it just seems as elusive as ever!!!!

I don't think so. That would seem to be more upon those who should have prayed, but didn't or don't.

 

There is really so much we don't know about prayer! We know that we are to pray for one another, and that God answers such, but we also know that the effectual, fervent prayer of a (singular) righteous man availeth much!

 

I think the "burden", for lack of a better term off hand, is on us to request prayer and then to be in prayer ourselves. It doesn't seem the Lord would answer one prayer because someone got 50 people to pray for them but deny the one who only had 49 praying.

 

I've studied and read about prayer for several decades now and the only things I can say for certain about prayer is that God wants us to pray and God answers prayer. The details are something God has determined to keep to Himself at this time.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Confess your faults, sins, to God, them put them behind you, they are forgiven, of course, for past decisions, sins, faults, there will be consequences, take David for an example.

 

2Sa 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

 

The sword would never depart from his house. But I feel sure yours would not compare to what David had done.

 

I find many that feel if I'm forgiven there should never be no consequences.

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That's another question I have about prayer. It seems like the more people praying for you, the more "power" there is. So if you can't get enough people praying for you, is that a less chance your prayer will be answered?

You'd think as a pastor's wife, I'd understand prayer by now.....but sometimes it just seems as elusive as ever!!!!

Maybe there is more power in some things brought to prayer among other believers but there are some things that are only between you and God and should be kept that way. You have to figure out which is which. I seems most prayers and praying in the bible are between that individual and God alone.

 

That would be a good study. When and for what in scripture was group prayer warranted and when not. 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I find I have problems applying the love of God to my life.....was just talking to a friend who feels the same way but was afraid to ever say anything. I feel like sometimes we have been taught that any appearance of struggling with faith is to be avoided, so people just try to keep up appearances while they struggle on the inside. Why do IFBs feel they have to be so perfect all the time, or else they will be judged harshly? I guess the answer would be because so many DO judge harshly instead of encouraging others...

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Maybe there is more power in some things brought to prayer among other believers but there are some things that are only between you and God and should be kept that way. You have to figure out which is which. I seems most prayers and praying in the bible are between that individual and God alone.
 
That would be a good study. When and for what in scripture was group prayer warranted and when not.


True. But still....surely God doesn't say, "whoever gets the biggest Facebook prayer chain started wins the prize"..... I mean, it's good if people all over America are praying for someone who has cancer....but some people don't have people all over America to even pray....I dunno that was random. Haha.

I do think church wide prayer is definitely Biblical and necessary and your study would be excellent to compare church prayer with private prayer.
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I find I have problems applying the love of God to my life.....was just talking to a friend who feels the same way but was afraid to ever say anything. I feel like sometimes we have been taught that any appearance of struggling with faith is to be avoided, so people just try to keep up appearances while they struggle on the inside. Why do IFBs feel they have to be so perfect all the time, or else they will be judged harshly? I guess the answer would be because so many DO judge harshly instead of encouraging others...

There are a lot of IFB's struggling mightily. I'm one of them. I can get a "I don't really give a hoot anymore" attitude sometimes.

 

A few years ago a pastor not far from where went behind his church a shot himself. This was a good IFB church with a Christian school too. My brother's friend just committed suicide. He left a note at the church and went out and ran his car into a tree. I've read testimony of pastors who have lost faith. They go through the motions but when they preach they say to themselves, "I really don't believe this anymore!". I think believers are getting overwhelmed by the world and how fast it is changing as well as what seems to be a God who is MIA. "Where's the God of Elijah?" 

 

I think many believers feel they will be ostracized and cast out by their church if they speak up. Or perhaps be condemned for losing faith. A lot of IFB's don't know how to help someone who is struggling like this or they themselves feel the same way but are afraid to speak up. Maybe they feel that if they bring it up it will hurt the faith of others or cast doubt on the word of God. Become a stumbling block. So they have to appear to be rock solid in faith and always have the answers. Maybe they are just plain afraid that God will whack them for unbelief and opening their mouth. I don't know.

 

I hope you can work through you struggles with your faith. I know it can be hard.

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True. But still....surely God doesn't say, "whoever gets the biggest Facebook prayer chain started wins the prize"..... I mean, it's good if people all over America are praying for someone who has cancer....but some people don't have people all over America to even pray....I dunno that was random. Haha.

I do think church wide prayer is definitely Biblical and necessary and your study would be excellent to compare church prayer with private prayer.

No, not Facebook prayer chain. LOL. 

 

I've said before that I don't post prayers too often in the prayer request section because I'm not convinced it works. I feel that I need to know you personally, maybe be part of your church or life for my prayers to be effective. Then I can really know and feel your burden and help you bear it. 

Edited by ASongOfDegrees
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Kitagirl, I don't think you have a wrong view (except one thing which I'll touch on in a second) but an incomplete view.  The wrong part is that God does not punish his children, he chastens them because He loves us (Hebrews 12:6).  It can seem like the same thing at times (I learned the hard way!) but things always work out for His Glory in the end.  I have one pair of pants, a pair of flip flops and no shoes, and lost my home but the Lord provides and my family and I are being used for His Glory.  

 

I see God's love for me in my family, my wife and children, my dogs and friends.  I see God's love for us at all the wonders he gives us, the stars to gaze at, the creatures in the sea, the rabbits and squirrels in the backyard.  Even though I've made poor choices and sinned before God he's taking care of my family and blessing my work despite my infirmnities.  Always trying to teach us lessons and when we mess up, gives us more opportunities to learn them again!  That is a love for me that I cannot comprehend.  I don't deserve it at all.

 

If God didn't love you or me Kitagirl, He wouldn't be in our lives and we both know that the Lord plays an active part.  When we don't hear from Him for a time, them maybe He's turned his head and cannot hear because of some unconfessed sin.  Then it's time to figure it out and confess.  Other times he's just teaching us something by doing so.  It was 400 years between the time of Malachi and Matthew before the Jews heard from the Lord again.

 

 
This song comes to mind.  Now, I'm not going to sing it for you lest your husband and my wife come after me!  But maybe if John, Marty, Jerry, Dave, HeartStrings, Seth, ASOD and Old Fashioned Preacher gather 'round we can all sing these truths together!  
 
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
 
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
 
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
 
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
 
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I find I have problems applying the love of God to my life.....was just talking to a friend who feels the same way but was afraid to ever say anything. I feel like sometimes we have been taught that any appearance of struggling with faith is to be avoided, so people just try to keep up appearances while they struggle on the inside. Why do IFBs feel they have to be so perfect all the time, or else they will be judged harshly? I guess the answer would be because so many DO judge harshly instead of encouraging others...

Yes, that's one of our problems and weaknesses, in that we too often put too much of an emphasis on outward appearances and exceedingly too little upon helping one another face our particular issues and learning to grow in the Lord from the inside out.

 

No doubt many of us are far too quick to lash out at those who dare speak of an area of weakness, doubt, temptation or a besetting sin. This leaves so many fearful to reach out for help, and since they don't know what to do, they try to hide the matter and put up a good appearance in public.

 

Scripture says we are to bear one another's burdens, to share our problems, questions and such with one another, and in love and kindness, with much prayer, help one another.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

You are right. Many time people think they can't be seen to be struggling, but if you look at David and Moses and Elijah you see them very different before God.

I would suggest a study of God's holiness might help you bring things a little into perspective.
How God's holiness affects His other attributes.

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Wow!  Lots of good stuff said, so I'm not going to try and re-say any of it.  I do, however, have some thoughts...

 

Kita, as a woman, we are taught to behave a certain way.  Many times what is left out is the Holy Spirit. Oh, we are told to surrender to the Spirit and allow Him to work in our lives, but we aren't told HOW to.  Other than just do it and you'll see how much good comes from it.  (or we're told how to with a long list of requirements...in other words, work for it!)

 

There is some truth in just being obedient and seeing fruit from it.  But I think one of the problems is that we've built a whole philosophy on just being obedient without learning surrender.  Surrender is based in love - and true obedience is, too.

 

On one side of the spectrum we have the majority of IFB who live right, but don't seem loving.  On the other, we have neo-evangelicals who seem loving but don't live right (and by right, I mean as the Bible decrees, because God does have requirements for us).  But what we need is balance.  And I believe if we have a right view of God and His love, that balance will come.

 

Several good suggestions have been made for study, but might I suggest one that I'm thinking might be a good place to start?  Study about God's love for us.  There are verses throughout the OT and the NT that speak of His love.  Keep a notebook of the verses and record your thoughts as you study them.  After you're done with that, branch out into God's dealings with those He loves.  

 

One of my all-time favorite verses is in the OT. Yes, it's speaking to Israel. But you know what? It's speaking to me, too:

 

"...Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."

(Jer. 31:3)

 

We all know that He loved us and sent His Son for us.  But this verse really speaks to me - He loved ME with an everlasting love: nothing I do can stop that love of His!  And because of that everlasting love, He drew me to Him - with that same love.

 

Allow yourself, my precious sister, to revel in His love for you.  He wants that. He truly does.

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