17 Aug 2000

The Re-Defining of Faith

Submitted by theshovel
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If you had been raised in an isolated environment and taught that you were living on a Martian colony ... would you ever question it? Why? The fact is that you and I HAVE been raised in an isolated environment - 20th century EARTH - and yet STILL have not questioned MANY faulty assumptions that will end up causing future generations to shake their heads in wonder.

We who have passed from death into life through Christ are outsiders to this world, have you realized that? Yet we still struggle to integrate the viewpoints of life and death. Sooner or later we will discover that it is as futile as scratching the itch that can't be found (I can only assume that you've experienced that before).

I have entitled this "The Redefining of 'Faith'" NOT because I'm making a new definition, but because what you have learned in this world IS a redefinition.

You know, it's the one you've been struggling with for some time now. Let's face it, if you have been born of God you have been thrust into more internal conflicts that you ever wanted ... it's all part of the package. One of those dilemmas is the unsuccessful attempt to reconcile miracle vs. activity.

In other words, we've backed ourselves into the corner with the premise:

  • "There is NOTHING you can do to be saved"
  • "Believing is the ONLY THING you can do to be saved"

So, which is it? Can you do something to be saved or not? If faith is the one thing you can do to be saved then you HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO BE SAVED. The trick is to word it in such a way as to suggest that faith is the only thing you can do without doing anything. Heck, that makes faith an oxymoron all by itself! :)

As we have begun, so we continue ... wavering back and forth between miracle and requirement. You STILL struggle with the whole concept of faith. You STILL try to initiate faith while knowing that only GOD initiates faith. But there is that subtle fear that if you don't do it then you won't have it. Aren't you glad that He doesn't share our confusion? Aren't you glad that He continues us in the miracle? I sure am.

Where did we get this from? Not from God, that's for sure. We learned it from the world - even though we may have heard it from the pulpit. Faith has been redefined by the natural mind of man down through the ages, and the church bought into it! We thought we were outsmarting the world because we preached on and wrote down EXACTLY which things needed to be believed in order to get the blessings of God. We didn't change the world, the Church merely became worldly.

Where do you think it all began that religions became known as Faiths? You don't think faith was the founding premise, do you? Study religious history and you will discover that FEAR has always been, and continues to be, the driving force behind religion. FEAR has motivated its followers to devote themselves to their religion, and it is this devotion that has been equated with faith. But the attitude behind such devotion is nothing akin to the faith that comes through Christ, for there is nothing miraculous in the effort one spends to keep oneself devoted. But when one who doesn't give a damn about God has been overtaken by His love ... that's miraculous. And since we continue upon that same premise, it remains miraculous.

We denied Him, but somehow we came to believe IN Him. We hated Him, but somehow we came to love Him. And then somebody told us that we needed to devote ourselves to Him ... and it created a conflict within us. For by His miraculous work in Christ God had ALREADY devoted us to Himself. Though we may not have been able to say it in so many words STILL the miracle of Christ was known within us. And here we were, being told that we were NOT devoted to Him.

So we began to flip-flop back and forth between miracle and requirement. Our concept of continuing faith got infused with the natural wisdom found in our effort to keep believing in Him. We have simply adopted the redefined version of faith which is nothing more than fear-motivated religious devotion. Of course, we wonder why it seems so difficult to maintain this attitude of faith. Is it any surprise that we talk about our faith as if it was the one thing that got us in and now remains the one thing we must continue to do?

What happened to the miracle?

Comments

You know, it’s the one you’ve been struggling with for some time now. Let’s face it, if you have been born of God you have been thrust into more internal conflicts that you ever wanted … it’s all part of the package. One of those dilemmas is the unsuccessful attempt to reconcile miracle vs. activity.-Jim If I could say anything about my own experience in one or two sentences I would have said it exactly like this. Isn’t this attempt really at the heart of most ALL of our questions, confusions and delimas? These conflicts are real and they are HUGE in us. Sometimes lasting for YEARS upon years. We run in fear from them assuming they are something “strange” and foreign to our true life and therefore to be resisted and always avoided. But what if THEY were the very hand of God striping away the things that are stealing our joy and peace in the Son? Adam

One of your best articles Jim. It is so relevant and so accurate. Like a skillful Dr. you assess the very thing taking place within us who are His.
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These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Paul

Simply, beautiful... \o/
I hope you're planning to explore this further.
Paul


~~~~~|||||) Exploring this further, huh? Yes, I could easily do that, I imagine. :) Thanx for the encouragement, bro! Jim (|||||~~~~~


Well, having re-read it, I'd say you nailed it pretty good. Perhaps it was ME who needed to explore it further. HA! :) Paul


~~~~~|||||) Paul, Actually dude, you have motivated me to continue on it a little more! :) Jim (|||||~~~~~


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Debbie H

Hey Jim,
I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for such insightful articles. I so enjoy reading them and the above mentioned article is quite thought provoking. May God continue to bless you as you share with us all.


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Natalie

Jim....that was awesome as usual. I come from a calvinistic heritage so I was always a believer in the miracle part. But then the questions came about other aspects. Reading your newsletter made me feel so peaceful. It is a miracle and I don't need to do anything except live. Live Christ. Breath Christ. It is a miracle that He is within me. Thanks. love,


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Becki

«The trick is to word it in such a way as to suggest that "faith" is the only thing you can do without doing anything. Heck, that makes "faith" an oxymoron all by itself! :) »

Another wonderful letter! Sent my head spinning. I really don't understand faith at all.


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Neil

Hi!
I really appreciate your stuff and want to keep getting it but need to give you a change of my email address. I didn't know which avenue of contact to use to do this, so forgive my using this one since I'm sure you want it kept for comments only. I was afraid that if I used the "remove" one that I would just be removed and not able to make the change request.

Thanks--and keep diggin', man! I've gotten some really good stuff from you--which I've been able to use.

In Christ,
Neil


~~~~~|||||) Neil, It is no problem at all, so please don't think that you have put me out in the least. Actually, this gave me the awesome chance to hear from you so that I am glad that you sent your request directly to me. Thanks. Jim Minker (|||||~~~~~


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Barb

HI Jim,
Golly, I think you're a scream! I howl at your choice of words as the walls of religion come crashin down! I came across your site awhile ago ~ by accident ~ (yeah!) and, well, I thoroughly enjoy each installment!

I have a prophetic friend whose ministry involves confronting "religion". Her latest challenge was to get a tatoo and set the tongues wagging. Meanwhile, our pastor was talkin about walking in love ~ the UNCONDITIONAL kind! Good effect!

Anyway, God's best to you and yours...increase!

Soakin in His love,
Barb


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Bill

Dear Jim, Thanks for your letter- my first received. Usually there are many letters waiting for me but today your's was the only one. I consider myself a person of faith so when something unusual happens I look for the hand of God, the Spirit of Christ, to be in the circumstances. Also, I am reading a small book 'Becoming Human'. How ironic, a man 74 years of age, reading a book with that title. Now what does this all have with faith? Plenty. My faith, God's gift to me, allows me to subscribe to your letter. My faith, as small as it is, frees me, an evangelical Protestant, to read a book by a Roman Catholic priest, founder of L'Arche. My faith, founded on the promises of Jesus, helps me see how others' faith in God enables them to hold a sixteen year old boy, blind and deaf, as well as severely intellectually disabled, unable to walk or feed himself, hold him closely until the chaos of his condition gives way to love received. Jim, before sixteen this boy lived in an isolated environment, his own mind. But God was not finished with Eric. The seed of faith had been planted by God and remained dormant sixteen years. Then, fueled by the love of God, spilling out of those who cared, Eric blossomed, yes, became human. May the blessings we receive today overflow our lives into the lives of the Erics we meet on the way. Thank you for starting my day in the right direction.


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Nancy

I think you've nailed it! We seem to want to be so sure that everybody gets it "right" that we try to define the whole Christian experience so it fits in our neat little boxes and we just mess the whole thing up! I'm forwarding this to all my friends right now, because this is a gem, Jim. (say that 5 times fast "Gem,Jim")


Posted: August 18, 2000 by John

Jim and All ~

Thanks for your insights. They are food for thoughts. You mentioned something about fear, which reminded me that I was just thinking & talking to God [and later Sandy] about fear. And I want to tell others because it may help me get over it, though my fear may not be related to what you were talking about. Anyways ...

A scripture says that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and though I used to believe I knew what that meant, I don't think so anymore. But let me tell you about my fear towards God.

I asked God some question the other night; e.g.,
Dear God, Do you really know what it's like to be me? {I sure don't know what it's like to be Him, of course.}
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to have bad credit?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to not be able to take adequate care of your family?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to not be able to pay your own way and your bills? {or even have bills/debts}
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to be evicted from you home?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to beg? {for anything}
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to be insecure? {in any way or thing}
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to worry?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to be afraid?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to make mistakes of any kind?
Dear God, Do you know what it's like to be ashamed?
and so on ...

I've read the scripture that says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Another translations says it like this, "I know what I have planned for you. I have good plans for you. I don't plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future."

Well, I used to hold on to scriptures like these. I found that many times, they gave me false hopes. Or hopes that never seem to come to pass. But my fears stem from my experiences and are contrary to hopeful scriptures like the one above. {Yawl, I'm juss trying to hash these things out. Help if you can.} My fear of God is not often the type that's respectful, reverence, and standing in awe. {It has been a few times though.} But my fears are related to practical living in this world; related to the questions I asked God [see questions above].

I don't doubt that God has good future plans, but I fear, by experience, that His present plans are those that involve much pains & sufferings. That He plans to let us be ashamed, go down to nothing again as several times before, become beggars [of a sorts], and so on. Though He knows what He's doing and what outcomes He's after, this does not make things more desirable for me, my family, and many others that God take through such fires. I can't see how I shall ever learn what He wants, or become more pure, or WHAT-EH-VER. But still, I'm afraid of God in these ways and I don't like it one bit. But if I'm misjudging God {which I've done countless times and don't like one bit either and feel terrible about}, why doesn't God 'show & tell' me [and other] just what He really is like and thinks toward us, etc.??? I don't care to continue to live in such fears of God. Anyways ...

Love, JohnBoy


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Bruce

«But when one who doesn't give a damn about God has been overtaken by His love ... that's miraculous.»

Oh my dear Jimmy!

What a wonderful divinely inspired sentence!

I've got "goosebumps"!

MUCH LOVE,


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Jim B

Hey Jim,

I enjoyed your post on "faith". When I first became a christian, the first christian folks I ran into was a deacon and his wife, at the Catholic church we were attending. We started going to a study at their house, and really enjoyed their friendship and sharing on the love of God and related testimonies,etc.

But after maybe 6 months of basking in the Lord, we started another topic, paraphrased, " we can't go on forever laying back and just enjoying God. It's time to go to work".

I remember distinctly being surprised. In my mind I was thinking, well, I did not do a thing to receive this new life, and I don't feel the slightest motivation to follow this plan or idea of going to work.

I am convinced this was the Holy Spirit telling me this is not right. And at the time I had no knowledge of law, grace, or even any part of the Bible.

The next few weeks of the study came across to me flat as a pancake. Whereas, the first few weeks on the love and grace of God left me in a state of joy, for days afterward.

Here's the paradox. I had been saved for about 2 months before joining the study. And without any pastor or fellowship or study or church or bible or mentor or instuction (I got saved listening to the radio in my room, and had not been to church in years) during these first 2 months I let go of many things that were wrong in my life, and I began to serve people without even being real concious of a need to do them. It was just happening.

Experience has taught me alot, and it has been confrimed by the bible.

Be focused on how much He loves you and the works will just happen.

By the way I go to a church once per month where the pastor teaches on the love and grace of God "every" week, and he never runs out of material, and we have been all over the Bible. And I "never" tire of this topic, never!!! It even surprises me sometimes.

Thanks,
Jim B


~~~~~|||||) Jim,
Thank you so much for writing! I loved this piece about the obvious work of the Spirit in your life. I am hearing from more and more who are remembering very similar things in their own lives.

The teaching from "pastors" or "mentors" is to be about CHRIST and HIS SPIRIT's work in us. I love "listening" for this work of God in those who are His and to encourage them in a real way. Wouldn't it have been great for your "teacher" to have called attention to the miracles that were at work in you? Wouldn't it be wonderful to inspire confidence in young believers that they REALLY DO have the Spirit working in them in very real ways? Instead, I think fear causes teachers to grasp for control by creating the illusion that "the work of God" is THEIR job, which, in turn, causes the believer to doubt and ignore the most obvious "living" insights they are continually receiving from the Spirit.

I can remember many times in my life as a "teacher" when I would "kill" my student in removing their living confidence and then tried to replace it with some "spiritual" and/or "Biblical" information. I saw it happen, and it disturbed me, because somehow I knew it shouldn't be that way. Thank God, for freedom!! :)

True "teaching" on our part is to validate the work of Christ in those who are born of the Spirit; for the finished work of Christ is the ONLY reality that brings life!

Jim Minker

(|||||~~~~~


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Jude

Jim, I was strengthened until I got to this sentence: :)

"But when one who doesn't give a damn about God has been overtaken by His love ... that's miraculous."

The miracle that has overtaken us, probably would not use this particular vocabulary word in speaking of His love. Uhmmm, wonder if God was speaking, Jim was typing, and Jim had a typo error? Ahhhh, but then God continued and Jim used spell check, right?

May I encourage you to not "go there, and feel the freedom to do that" for there might be those who are not as mature in Christ as you. On the other hand, I told my son once, if you would always use words that you know would not offend anyone (and there is such a vocabulary) then you would never have to worry about a "slip of the tongue" at the wrong time, in the right place. Do you think he cleaned up his act, nawwww....only around Mom, harrrr! But the wonderful thing about typing, we don't have to have "slips of the tongue..." we can correct our typos. :)

May the Lord continue to drag us where we must go in Him. And, as we are in Him, may the meaning of His words not be spoiled by our choice of vocabulary.

Love to you friend, Jude


~~~~~|||||) Hello Jude!!

I appreciate your thoughts, and I understand your concern ... I really do. And I thank you for ending your letter as my friend, for you are a dear friend to me. :) Thanx for sharing the interaction between you and your son, it was honest.

How I worded that sentence is less about my "freedom" and more about a serious communication that comes closer to the sharp contrasts of God's love toward sinners (as expressed in the Bible) than what we are used to hearing as it has been watered down by religion. I strive to use language that communicates. Don't worry, I'm not planning on making any big changes in the way I've been writing.

I also think there are a lot of assumptions about "non-offensive" vocabulary, for I think most people sense an hypocrisy in the use of "acceptable" replacements. What I'm saying is that we're really not fooling too many people. They know ... and they just learn to play along for OUR benefit while sometimes building up resentments as they listen to us do the same thing using the words OUR friends agree on.

I'm open to continue this discussion any way you see fit, okay? :)

Love to you, too, my friend :)

Jim (|||||~~~~~


It is o.k. Jimbo, I know the Lord will help you make the right forms of communication.

To be quite honest with you I used to curse worse than a sailor. That seems to be the one thing He really did do for me--cleaned up my mouth. (Some 30 years ago now--wow how long.) Can't say that I have never been mad enough to probably let go of a cuss word, but I guess I work hard at not doing it because I don't want to go back there :) Of course, I should probably not get to that place to begin with :) If'n I was under the control of the Spirit don't imagine I'd had to force any kinda of control to begin with either, harrr!

Jim I guess I had a rather bad experience recently. I joined a list of supposedly Christians. And, it wasn't long and such curse words were colored all over the place in the same sentences talking about the goodness of God and etc. When I began to question what was going on I mean what an attack. The gentlemen that attacked me called himself a Prophet and they had been speaking against the established religion in many churches that they felt the Lord had taken them out of. The really sad thing was while they were talking about the religious system they had been brought out of, they had created their own system. Crazy isn't it, how we can create a system out of a non-system :)

At any rate buddy, I have heard the Lord speak so much through you and when unecessary profanity comes across I will just know you fell off your pedestal and it wasn't the Lord talking, harrr!

I have a very dear friend that comes and holds our fellowships once a month and he speaks of the hells of our lives. And every time he says it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up :) He would say something like, "you know when Christ is not living His life through us, when we are trying to live for him, rather than him living for us, we create our own hells here on earth..." of course, I know what he means, it just rubs me the wrong way. So, it is just me, I don't like the use of profanity in my association with the Lord, and I know the Bible has ways of putting words too that I wouldn't even use today :) So, not to worry, it is probably just me and my hang ups :)

At any rate, thanks for responding and taking my email in the spirit that it was intended. If you had been offended then I probably would not have continued on wanting to read your "digs." But you responded with the Spirit of Christ that I expected and I am glad I wasn't wrong about you, like I was about those previous fellars on the list. Jeez! My hair is still singed from them. I just sat back in shock with what ensued. Guess I have been too sheltered. Haven't really been too involved in the church world for about 8 years now and wasn't really aware that some of these other groups were forming and taking on such a dogma as some where. My goodness, one gets to where one doesn't even like to be called a Christian. Cuz, not sure what those that are nonChristians see in some called Christians :0( Guess I just will refer to myself as one of The Way, harrr! Uhmm, start another system I guess, heheeh.)

Thanks buddy, I am so glad that Christ is our life, and He will take care of us and get us where we gotta go. I so depend upon the miracle of His loving care for me when I am a very unlovely person. Thank God, He knows me better than I know myself. I need Him desperately to save me from myself, thank God He is there for us all.

While we might not agree on all things Jim, I think we do agree on how precious the Lord is to us and how thankful we are that he drug us out of the religious system we undoubtedly were being destroyed in. I hope that isn't being presumptious of me to include you there:) Sometimes I just shudder thinking of where I was headed in what I thought was right "doing" for the Lord. Oh my, how deceived I had become.

Well outta here for now friend, and thanks again for your kind response. I will look forward to receiving your writings and may the Lord continue to work His life more in you and through you and to you.

Huggy,
Jude


~~~~~|||||) Jude ... you are such a precious sister!! I love your openness and honesty. And yes, «we do agree on how precious the Lord is to us and how thankful we are that he drug us out of the religious system we undoubtedly were being destroyed in.» :) Love, Jim (|||||~~~~~


Posted: August 18, 2000 by Jack

Hey Jim,

You are getting me in trouble, just thought I would send this on to you. I forwarded your last letter to some folks and this is one of the first responses that I got back. Probably won't get too many, but that is cool. I have also included my response for your input. I would like to know if you can give me any pointers, I just seem to share from my heart and then I often wonder if the whole thing holds together. It is hard to tell since I of course understand what I am trying to say. Look forward to hearing from you.

Jack

(The response Jack received about the Shoveletter)
« Jack,
Interesting...I understand what he's trying to get across, but it sounds to me like he might be veering a little toward a ditch in his efforts to miss the one on the other side. We in no way should use our works to seek our acceptance or justification from God, but it's not wrong in any way to encourage people to a deeper walk or place of "devotion" to God. I mean, you gotta admit that even those of us who receive the grace of God still have to undergo battles with our flesh, and the Bible clearly states that when we "sow to the flesh from the flesh we reap destruction". It also states clearly that "faith without works is dead". So whereas we don't receive God's love and acceptance through works, there is a "dying to self" that comes part and parcel with serving God, not so we can have acceptance from Him, but for 2 reasons: 1)so that we will prosper, and 2) so that more of Him will be revealed in us. (Ro.8:19 "for the anxios longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God" )NAS. If read in context it clearly shows that it's not talking about like after we're dead but when we as sons of God walk in what He has prepared for us in this life, grace AND action (v.12-14) "So then brethren, we are under obligation not to the flesh to live according to the flesh -- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God")»

(His response to her letter)
Hi,
Anyway, I don't necessarily agree with everything that Jim (the shovel) says, nor do I pretend to understand what he is always getting at, I will say that I do get a lot out of what he does write, most of the time. I have been listening to a lot of Mike Williams and they tend to talk about some of the same things and I will say that it has revolutionized my life. I have come to realize that some of the things I believed and some of the "phrases or buzzwords" that I would use were somewhat man-made and became a sort of prefabrication for understanding my position in Christ. That position in him has become so much more alive to me since I have been willing to give up on some of the religious notions that I had ingested over the years. I don't fault anyone, cuz, I can see how some of these ideas can be come up with when scripture is taken out of context and you combine a bunch of them to prove a point when they are not even pertaining to an issue at all.

My biggest struggle of late has not been with my flesh, as I have put that away, as he has on my behalf. Letting go of trying to gain control of it is fruitless! and now that I have given up on it I see what I was striving for all of the time come bounding toward me. That control belongs to the one that killed the derned thing and when I yield to the fact that " I am dead and my life is hidden in Christ" (col 3:3)

Sometimes I think we are trying to play "weekend at bernies" instead of playing "dead man walking". We try so hard to put things under when that is where they have already been placed. It is a revelation of the power of the facts of what Christ has already done and not a striving to make it happen. People not understanding this concept will hear the words "he is saying that you should do whatever you want" when it is their own fearful hearts scaring them into staying in self-imposed restraint. People are afraid, I am still afraid, of totally yielding to the fact that he is holding nothing against me, no matter what I do, due to the simple fact of my knowing what I might be capable of.

Sometimes I think we are all control freaks to a degree. The fact of the matter is, though, this allows us to be absolutely transparent with our own hearts and honest before God. An example of what I am getting at would be:

Scenario- Jack lusts after another human being.
Old Jack1: "I bind those thoughts in the name of Jesus Christ and I cast them down, I plead the blood and Satan you have no place in my mind and God please forgive me for lusting after that person, Amen"
New and Improved Jack: "Jesus, I am looking at so and so and I am so hot for (them) that I can't stand it".

Now, the first sounds good, and at best worked temporarily, however, the new and improved way brings about a state of indifference and disinterest. I experience a deeper heart change concerning that particular difficulty. My heart and his heart line up and we continue an uninterrupted walk together.

The old way, always left me feeling that "I was not right with God" until I took care of this. I am hear to tell you we will never take care of it all, and if that is what it takes ain't none of us gonna make it. Jesus is being sold short and we need to stop it.

A few short months ago, I would have read Romans 8:14 and interpret it the same as you. However, I am beginning to wonder if phrases such as "live after the flesh" are not ones that were already made impossible by the nailing of the dreaded pelt to the cross? Again, I am dead and my life is hidden in Christ and there ain't no playin' peek-a-boo!!!

Anyway, don't worry, I am not departing from the faith, just questioning past interpretations of what has been taught. ... I am in a new place and in a new and more living walk, nothings changed, just questioning my awareness of the whole thing.

I have been craving more of what God is saying and not as much of what man says he was saying. I have begun to understand the power of belief, be it true or false and what people will do to protect what they hold dear. After all, it was that same power that nailed Jesus to the cross, still wreaking havoc today. They believed something about him that was not true and killed him for it. People believed stuff about the apostles and that was not true either, and killed them too. We will fight tooth and nail to preserve sacred cows, and all those.

Don't get me wrong, works are wonderful, God ordained that we should walk in them from since forever. So I know that they will abound and enrich our lives and the lives of others. But, one thing that I have noticed is, that whenever someone quotes out of James that "faith without works is dead" there is rarely, if ever, a definition of what those works are. I have often wondered if they may be as large as preaching to the masses or as small as a simple prayer in faith. We could argue all day if you need works to save you , and whether or not Paul and James were disagreeing with each other. I guess I have grown tired of profound teachings that seem to lack a point or a plan. I call them "open ended messages". They are heated and firey sometimes, but you walk away with a sense that a conclusion was never reached and that while scripture was included it was often times misquoted and again, conjoined to prove a point. Am I wrong, or is that the point, let the hearer walk away with their own conclusion? Anyway, hope this makes some sense. I don't get to vent too much, and sometimes I get onto a rolllllllll.........

Rant at ya later,
Jack


~~~~~|||||) Good to hear from you, Jack!!
Well, all I've got to say is that since I get myself into trouble all the time there's no reason why I can't get you into trouble as well!! hahahah!! :)

Answering from your heart is the real stuff of life, bro, and I am encouraged by that. I read this to my wife, Sherri, and she commented that you articulate yourself very well! :) I have discovered that if I'm not sharing my heart then it's not worth much no matter how I word it.

What I noticed after having read this the second time was that are listening past the smokescreens that usually shift the focus onto the religious argument. Wow! I am so encouraged by your honesty in responding to her. While she started off by saying "I understand what he's trying to get across" you were careful to say, "I don't necessarily agree with everything that Jim (the shovel) says, nor do I pretend to understand what he is always getting at". You were not only being honest in saying so, it also quietly challenged her assumption that she knew what I was "trying" to say (of which she obviously had no idea). :)

"... they tend to talk about some of the same things and I will say that it has revolutionized my life." This is powerful. And NOT because it is an end-all statement that challenges anyone to question your experience, but because it zips past all the religious smoke 'n mirrors found in playing with Bible verses and touches that place inside us where we have KNOWN that Jesus came to "revolutionize" our lives!!

You know what? I don't think you need any "pointers" from me. Instead, I'll just encourage you to keep listening to the life as it flows through me or Bob or anyone else, and especially as it flows through YOU. You see, I just heard from Christ as I was reading YOUR letter with YOUR responses. This is body life, bro ... I love it!

Do you mind if I put this string of posts on the site in the last Shoveletter page? I would edit out "personal" stuff that might somehow be linked back to your friend, and just include the gist of her letter. Let me know.

Jim (|||||~~~~~


Thanks Jim,

Good to hear from you! Your letter was a real encouragement, that is what it is all about though, isn't it. You know, at times I feel like my life lacks direction, but when I am able to share with another person what I have found, then I feel like I am doing what really floats my boat. I guess it is like you have said, it was right there in front of my face all of the time. Of course you may share the posts, I may even forward them to my friend, if I feel that is the best thing to do.

Hopefully I will be able to catch you on Friday night, you gonna be there?

Jack


Posted: Feb-09-05 by Jo

Did I miss something?

According to Eph. 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God..

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)

The initial saving faith is also a gift and it mostly happens through hearing the gospel.

The ongoing faith is a miracle, because as I try to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, it is God working in me both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Fill 2,12-13)


Hello Jo,

Perhaps you did miss something as I am not sure if you are objecting or agreeing. :)

Jim


Posted: Feb-12-05 by Diana

Hey, if I have learned anything over the last several decades..it is that my faith is absolutely God's work...I would choose to give up or argue with the Lord about it if my human mind or flesh had my way...but after much( years and years) religious teaching and UNteaching...through it all..He has been responsible for my safe keeping ( I am speaking of my Faith) ...and not of myself...period.
For that I rejoice because life in itself has exhausted me and it is so good to leave it to the one who requires NOTHING from me and rest in the FAITH he has promised to provide and keep me in...regardless of how things may appear.
I am weary of all those who try to shove down my throat the need to "Do...or perform somehow to prove my faith...it came from HIM who loves me and He has to keep it working in me because I could not do it if were up to me..AH....such freedom...He is Able to finish what HE has begun...I will try to stay out of the way with rules and requirements...they only muddy up the truth of His faithfulness towards me.
How the human ego trys so hard to provide some part of it's salvation...what a ridiculous notion that we can DO anything to help with our salvation...that concept is pure ego speaking through flesh...by those who think they know God's mind...oh how I wait to hear those many mouths quieted ... of course...once they are quieted...I won't have to hear them anymore.
Call me weary or call me glad ...for I am both. The arguements for certain duties come from those who have yet to see that GRACE means...no form of payment...none...never...no way...impossible to pay...FREE...it is finished...shal I go on?


Posted: Feb-18-05 by Dud

YAAAAAAHOOOOOOO!!!!!

My brain is yelling: "THAT'S JUST AN EXCUSE TO BE LAZY, YOU ARE LAZY YOU KNOW!"

I yell back: "JESUS HAS DONE ALL THE WORK, DON'T YOU GET IT!"

This goes on to the point of ridiculous exhaustion. Something in me wants to deny that it is true, while deep down I know that it is.

It is worse when I try to communicate what I know is true. Looks of incredulous confusion do not give me much support for such radical thoughts much less the behavior that it produces (i.e. reading scripture in passionate spasms rather then in daily doses like we must, praying when I feel like it, teaching scripture based on what it says, not on what systematic theologies say it says etc. and etc.)

I sometimes wish Paul had written one more letter...The Epistle to Dudley...it would have one word...RELAX!...Love Paul.

Thanks Jim for making me have those incredulous looks and those moment when my heart goes YAAAAHOOO!

Dud


Posted: Feb-22-05 by redifining faith

Excellent piece! Thank You for reminding me that it's not my job to "keep the faith"

For me,..this might have been the the most important thing you ever wrote. i may PM you later today to discuss if you have time. Adam

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