Hi Jim, I don't even know where to begin. I stumbled across your website a few weeks ago after typing "freedom+grace" on google search. I guess that shows what has been of great interest to me lately. I grew up in a very legalistic church and would never have even considered reading your content on this website. Actually, the funny thing is, I would have probably considered you a heretic. Now, something in me cannot stop reading. You have somehow destroyed my "religious belief system" and made me see Christ in a whole new way. However, I have more questions and dilemmas than ever before. One minute it makes sense the next it doesn't. One minute I'm experiencing peace and joy and the next minute I'm anxious and fearful. I have so many questions to ask you that I feel like I need just a day to spend with you. My first question is how a person gets saved. All are dead in sin so no one has the ability to save himself. But, why do some choose Christ and others not? And if it isn't about our choosing then does God choose? And if God chooses than according to His great love wouldn't He choose all of us? There's that verse that says God desires all men to be saved. How do I know my children will be saved? This isn't just a theological question, it is very personal and I find myself fearful that somehow God could not save a close friend or even my baby that is about to be born. Another question is if Christ is my life then does that mean I cannot sin? What is happening when I see pride in my life? Everything in me wants to change! But, if Christ is my life then why am I still prideful? Or why do I still get angry? If i am dead to sin why do I still sin? How do I practically live under grace? What does that look like? What do I do when I sin? Also, I am about to have my first child and I am now wondering how to train him. If there is nothing good in us then why do parents discipline as if they demand something good. However, doesn't a child need to know what is right and wrong? Lastly, I have been married for almost two years. Why do I still struggle to love my wife passionately? I want soooo bad to love her and yet something in me at times has no love. I compare her to other girls. I hate it and I cry out to God and the next day I feel the same way. Please Jim help me to find the freedom Christ came to give me. I am soaking in grace and yet all is confusing. I thought I knew it all when I was a teenager and I really did love God and now everything seems to be unclear. I would appreciate it if you wrote me back. Thank you very much for standing on GRACE. Dave
Thanks for writing, I always enjoy receiving email from those stimulated from reading on the shovel site. :) I have probably been considered a heretic from many web surfers who have stumbled across my site. Some make no attempt to hide it from me. hahaha! That's okay, I would have thought myself a heretic as well had I read such stuff while in Bible college. The fact that you have so many questions and new dilemmas suggests to me that you are really beginning to get past some deeply ingrained fleshly ideas and beliefs that may have been held as Biblical or godly. Such is the mind of the flesh.
Don't be afraid of the emotions you are currently experiencing for they will aid you in exposing what it is that is really bothering you. Just learn to listen to what is REALLY going on inside you instead of making assumptions based upon the notion that you're not supposed to feel that way. You feel that way because your whole world - that is, your perceptions of life, God, goodness, the world, etc - is being turned upside down. Those beliefs that have harbored fear, pride, anxiety, etc are so interconnected to so many other beliefs (aka perceptions) and experiences (aka perceptions and reinterpretations of those experiences) that there is no way you are not going to experience a repercussion effect based on the fear that you're going to lose something in the process.
For years you have come to assume your belief structure was a safety zone in which you could always fall back upon when you felt unsettled, and it allowed you to pacify or divert the fears that plagued you over the years. The truth is that the same things that have bothered you for years and years are the very same things that have now come back upon you in force. These are the same fears that have eaten away at mankind for eons, for it makes no difference how they might be worded. Being left exposed by the reality of Christ and true life in him has removed the imaginary safety net which you learned to find comfort and reassurance ... of sorts.
The answer to your questions is Christ. Trust him to answer for himself. I'm not saying there aren't some answers to some of the questions you've posed, but what you're seeking comes in knowing that he is fully able to deliver you and that he has already removed the cause of your fears. Christ didn't bring in some new principles of living and new belief-systems but has instead taken the old out of the way in his own body on the cross ... and has brought us into HIS resurrected life. All those questions dealing with the "what ifs" are founded upon the old life. Just because we bring Christian concepts into those questions doesn't change the fact that they are fleshly. That's how the "truth" that Christ is has been turned into just another system ... and that's how we keep perpetuating the illusion of Christian truth by standing upon a set of teachings rather than upon the LIFE itself.
Anyhow, I'm going to stop here and see where this goes from here! :) And please know that I am not toying with you, but fully trusting that Christ will strengthen you according to the testimony of his miraculous life!
I wanted to share a portion of the response I received from Dave.
You are amazing! I have read Christian books my whole life and memorized whole books of the bible. I have been a Christian since I was six years old and have gone to many Christian seminars and many bible studies AND NEVER have I had someone say what you have said to me. Nothing you just said is profound, but I have to tell you something that I find funny. Ever since my "world" has fallen apart, I have been on journey of grace so to speak. I have started reading books by Brendan Manning and Philip Yancy which I would never have read before. They helped me see grace a little more. Then after some time I stumbled across your website. At first, I was alarmed but not for long. I was up a few nights in a row until 1:00 in the morning reading. Most of it didn't make sense :) but this is the funny part. I told my wife that I had found this new website and this guy answered all of peoples questions with one answer, Christ. I told her that it didn't matter what the question or how many words you used, it was always Christ as the answer. So I told her even though the ideas you were promoting on the web site were revolutionary I KNEW it was not heresy because the answer to everything was Christ. Then you just wrote me and said, "The answer to your questions is Christ" ha, ha. AMAZING! I LOVE IT. I hardly have a clue what that means but I know it is true.
Hello again, Dave!
It was a delight to receive your email. My wife and I were laughing in joy at your response ... especially when we got to this part:
I told my wife that I had found this new website and this guy answered all of peoples questions with one answer, Christ. I told her that it didn't matter what the question or how many words you used, it was always Christ as the answer. So I told her even though the ideas you were promoting on the web site were revolutionary I KNEW it was not heresy because the answer to everything was Christ. Then you just wrote me and said, "The answer to your questions is Christ" ha, ha. AMAZING! I LOVE IT. I hardly have a clue what that means but I know it is true.Dave
I love the fact that you recognize my response contained nothing profound ... that is, except Christ himself! He is a contradiction to all we have ever understood to be profound for his inexhaustible wisdom and understanding is simplicity. It is deep beyond any and all human comprehension and yet is given to those who are regarded as lacking any wisdom in this world. His wisdom is understood through faith but slips through our grasp as soon as we think we might finally get a handle on it. In truth, most of our confusion comes because we think this immeasurable wisdom is somehow supposed to turn into an intellectual wisdom that will finally give us the REAL understanding of God.
I'm not saying it's unimportant to learn things that might negate much of what now confuses us, but that we will never get to the root of our confusion by answering individual questions or solving individual dilemmas. Intellect would have us reason that the accumulation of such knowledge is true knowledge and would have us putting our hopes in the final answer that would cause us to figure everything out. But Christ is the final answer, and in knowing this we may discover that we are truly free, free enough to see through most of the bogus particulars that have caused our confusion.
Hey, I was going to write a lot more but I just got off an hour long phone call from another new friend. Thanks for your patience. :)
Jim, I am having trouble!! I feel drained. I've been up every night late reading your articles and some things make sense and some things don't make any. There is one question that I really need you to answer, PLEASE. How does a man come to be in Christ? If it is by believing and faith is a gift then why doesn't God impart faith to all? How do I know that I am in Christ? I know that you are neither a calvinist, or a free willist (??), or a universalist. And thats ok cause I don't want to be either, but my brain won't let me. Please tell me how a person comes to be in Christ so that I can understand. Thank you for your ministry. Dave
Sorry Jim, I didn't say all that I wanted to say. I want you to know how I feel. I feel confused in the head, but I have a peace inside. I feel exhausted from trying to comprehend what you write yet I feel renewed from knowing who I am in Christ. However, I sometimes feel like I am not in Christ. Like I am making it all up. I want to know how to know for sure that I am His and He is mine. I feel liberated by your teaching but then I feel like now I am doing nothing. If Christ is my life wouldn't I be praying all the time. I find my prayer life to be so dry. I SO DESIRE the simplicity of Christ but nothing seems simple to me. My mind won't stop thinking, and it always has more and more questions. Its like I"m going insane!! Well, I hope that helps you understand how I feel and what I'm going through. Dave
Hello my friend, Dave,
I so appreciate your unpretentious honesty! It is totally refreshing. Let me tell you what I hear behind all your questions and misgivings. I hear the heart of one miraculously made alive. I'm witnessing the impact of everything you had come to rest upon in the rational world disintegrating before your eyes causing you to question whether you could possibly be seeing what you see, whether you could truly hear what you hear, whether you could possibly know what you know, whether you could by any stretch of the imagination be what you are. It is overwhelming, is it not? While considering your own reactions, or lack thereof - as you compare yourself to what you think you should be - you assume that nothing is happening, that you don't understand, that you lack where you should flourish.
I, however, stand in awe of what I recognize taking place within you. For I see the mountains being flung into the sea, dead bones coming to life, and dry wells being filled. The clash between what is actually happening within you and figuring out how all that can possibly be true is inevitable. For the one is not accessible to the other, instead each judges the other as insanity.
Prayer life dried up? Perhaps it is time to recognize the miraculous reality of true communion with God that is now causing your whole religious concept of prayer - and your lack of involvement to it - to pale before your eyes. Your recent insanity found in your questions and dilemmas is intimately known and heard by your father! You may be writing to me but you have been speaking to him ... as well as him so obviously speaking to you!! Maybe it just doesn't feel the way you think it should feel, or come out in the formal manner you always expected. :)
How does a person come to Christ? Miraculously! And such a miracle could only be so through faith. For faith slams against all human reasoning and decision-making. For you to now believe is nothing short of God's work, for your faith testifies to it ... whether you understand the implications of that testimony or not.
While we have often learned to take credit for our own faith (in one manner or another) we have only done so through the logic of our former mental reasoning capacities. For that reasoning desires to get behind the how's and the why's of God's work through Christ in an attempt to "better understand" what has happened to us. It can't. Such reasonings and systems of explanation can only serve to hide one confusion by another, even though it appears to make sense of that which escapes the former logic.
Why doesn't God impart faith to all? I recognize the question from my own reasonings and suspect the underlying question has more to do with the unlikeliness that God could impart faith to ME if he didn't do the exact same thing to everyone ... at least, in my own world. Nothing is as it appears to be, and yet we spend so much time and energy trying to rationalize and harmonize the miraculous new creation in Christ according what appears to be. We either turn into judges of the flesh and fleshly deeds or we attempt to negate any distinction between that which is dead and that which is alive.
Your father is faithful on your behalf in this time where the logic of your former life and the logic of God (which is Christ himself) are so clearly recognized by you as being totally contradictory one to another. Do not wish to bypass the true knowledge of Christ that is actively taking place within you right now just because it doesn't feel right. :)