- Where did you grow up? Ohio
- How did you come to be interested in spiritual things? I grew up going to church. I can remember becoming personally aware of God when I was about 8. When I was 13 and facing major surgery, I felt angry and began challenging God. But, I came to realize that God was not my enemy; I needed Him to help me through my experience. Because of that experience, I grew closer to Him.
I never really had the opportunity to study the Bible, though, until I went away to college. I was astonished to discover some of the teachings in the Bible because they were contrary to what went on in my home church, and I thought that people were simply unaware of what the Bible taught. I was active in Christian organizations in college and developed close friendships with other Christians, whom I felt comfortable discussing the Bible with. But I gradually discovered, especially after graduation, that many people who identify themselves as Christians are hostile toward the Word of God.
I've really struggled in my adult life to understand what it means to be a Christian, and how to apply the Spirit of Christ in my life, seeking out other people who hunger and thirst after righteousness so that we can strengthen and encourage one another.
- Do you have any affiliation to a particular church, person, document, etc.? My family attended a non-denominational church, which was an off-shoot of a Baptist congregation, until I was 2 or 3. After that church disbanded, my mother began taking my sister and me to a Baptist church. Because of the disparities I saw there after I began studying the Bible on my own in college, I started going to a Methodist church until I realized it was no different and I felt a great need of spiritual encouragement to face life.
I thought about just staying home and continuing to study the Bible on my own, but I was convinced that Jesus established the Church so we wouldn't have to walk the road alone. That's when a friend introduced me to a home-based congregation, which I attended for almost 20 years. I struggled in that church, too, the last 12 years or so. It had seemed so different and sincere at first, but again people began distorting the scriptures to justify their sins and discouraging others from obeying.
I'd also begun noticing scriptures that refuted some of the teachings in that church, but it took a while for them to really sink in because I, like others in that organization, became so convinced that it was the one true Way that anything contradicting the church's accepted doctrine seemed like blasphemy against God. So, when I "heard" God telling me things and pointing me to scripture opposing the teachings of that church, even telling me to leave that church, I decided God wasn't actually talking to me, and was convinced that He'd given up on me. I finally acknowledged that it was not the "one true church" after searching the Internet and discovering the pervasive immorality and corruption within that particular church.
I studied the beliefs of various churches on the Internet and went to several churches of Christ before settling on one that seemed most in line with the teachings of the Bible. Because of my past experiences, though, I've approached it skeptically and continue my own search for Truth, which I know to be the Word of God. The congregation I now attend is very small and aging, and I'm vaguely aware of some conflicts among members. I think the conflicts are a result of several different congregations merging by virtue of a few common beliefs while remaining divided on other points.
- What spiritual topics are the current focus of your thoughts and studies? I'm really interested in anything that will help me have a better understanding of God's Word and a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. One topic that has never been resolved to my satisfaction is the understanding of the Holy Spirit. One facet of the home-based church that initially impressed me was their teaching on the power of the Spirit. That teaching was later replaced, however, with the theology of "We can't be expected to do that; we're only human." Someone in the congregation I currently attend told me that there are 2 spirits -- one with which the apostles were baptized and the other which all believers receive. So, 2 Spirits, but one of them is the "one" Spirit.
- For what are you looking on the forums? Why are you here? I'm looking for people like myself, who believe the Bible to be God's holy Word and want a deeper understanding of it. It's difficult to find people whose faith isn't grounded solely in a particular church, but who instead have a fervent desire to know God in truth, because we will be judged by His Word, and His Word alone, in the end. Along with wisdom, I also feel a need for brotherly encouragement as we are living in a world that's becoming more and more hostile to the Word of God.
- Do you have personal goals you wish to accomplish on the forums? Do you have any topics that you consider important, which you wish to discuss with others? I want to walk in the Light. One of the biggest struggles I've had lately is forgiving some people who hurt me -- not only emotionally but also physically, albeit indirectly. I believe the ability to forgive is one mark of the Spirit.
I also want to better understand what Jesus meant when he said that true worshipers would worship God in spirit and in truth. Some churches focus primarily on methodology, particularly regarding Sunday morning services. I think that methodology is important to some degree, because if we just perform rituals for the rituals' sake, i.e., in an effort to simply appease God while oblivious to the intended purpose, then we'd be trying to earn salvation through works alone.
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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)