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faith fallen away
August 29, 2009
3:18 pm
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CrittleRen
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I'm rather new here. I've been posting for several days on the support side, but it's my understanding that this is the place to speak regarding spiritual matters. I have a spiritual matter.

I went to church when i was younger. I believed the teachings because I was afraid not to. As I got a little older Mom quit making me go to church, and by then i really had no desire to attend anyway. I just never felt the touch of God, Higher Power, Spirit, whatever you want to call It. Some people say they hear God speak, or feel God in their hearts...but not me. I ache to know, to trust, that there is something bigger out there, some grand purpose to existence; but I don't feel it in my heart.

I suppose I just need to let it out, because for so long i've pretended to be a believer, and a non-believer, back to believing, and again to non-believing, that the yoyo effect is making my head spin.

Perhaps i am looking for something very profound, some kind of sign that i can't miss. Is it that God is subtle? Could I really be receiving messages but overlooking them because i don't recognize the fact that these are signs from my Higher Power?

I think part of the reason that my life is in shambles now is because somewhere down the line i have allowed my faith to fall away from me.

August 29, 2009
3:35 pm
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soofoo
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Sometimes I am in a state of grace, and faith comes easily, and I feel that I am one with God. I feel God speak to me in my heart and I am without any doubt at all that God is real. Other times (like now) I am not in a state of grace, and have only the memory of how close I was to God.

Jesus said "Seek and ye shall find". Pray for faith.

August 29, 2009
3:45 pm
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It No Longer Matters
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I believe, help my unbelief.

I spent 12 years in strict Christian education. Some of which scarred me for life. I turned away from God and wanted nothing to do with Him.

I am back. There are times He is near and time He is far, but then I drove past a roadside pulpit with this on it. Not feeling close to God? Who moved?

May you find the peace and comfort you are seeking.

Bitsy

August 29, 2009
6:03 pm
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truthBtold
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CrittleRen,

I know where you are coming from because I have been kind of at that place myself.

Maybe it could just be like, a re-vamping of sorts - you know?

A re-organizing of faith, sort of - kind of?

Go with your heart. Be open.

Faith I think, like cream gently just rises to the top naturally and when we least expect it to.

You'll figure it out...........

tBt

August 29, 2009
8:05 pm
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HEARTS
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What you describe reminds me of the path I have been on in my life journey and one that is found in scripture in the Parable of the Seeds which describes seeds that fall on rocks vs. good soil. I can thankfully say that the seed of faith has finally landed on good soil within my soul and I don't ever think it will change to a different level.

God found a way to get me to 'listen' to Him and He will find a way to reach you also.

I don't know if this will work for you, but when I want to try to 'communicate' with God, I close my eyes with bible in hand, ask a question and then open bible. I then underline what seems to stick out at me on the page. 9 times out of ten it is often comforting and sometimes VERY VERY amazing at how it relates.

August 29, 2009
9:03 pm
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StronginHim77
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Crittle -

I, too, was raised in a church-going family. I was even required to attend a private, faith-based school. By the age of 18, I had "religion" up to my eyeballs and (after moving out on my own) wanted nothing more to do with it.

In my mid-thirties, however, I learned that "religion" is not the same as "relationship" with God. And I developed an intense and very personal relationship with God through my faith in Jesus Christ.

Today (at nearly 60), I am an ordained, Christian minister. My church is NOT "traditional," although it is Biblically based. We (my leadership and I) call it a "Book of Acts" church. We are not into Building Funds or Hefty Salaries and Cars for the Pastor or traditional -- but boring -- services where a leader does a one-man tap dance behind a pulpit for 55 minutes on Sunday morning.

We gather each Sunday evening for about two hours of ministering to one another's needs, sometimes with a brief teaching or message and ALWAYS with personal prayer ministry for each and every person who comes. Word is spreading and our numbers increase each week. This is how church was conducted back in the time of Jesus before mankind succeeded in fouling up faith with expensive buildings, dull services and ag

August 29, 2009
9:06 pm
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StronginHim77
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ooops....hit "send" before I was ready.

To continue...the traditions of men have turned vibrant love for God and compassion for the needs of our fellow men into empty, hollow, dull religion. I fall asleep in traditional church services. I suspect God does, too. But He does show up at our weekly gatherings. Each person feels His Presence tangibly and receives personal encouragement that he/she MATTERS to God.

I hope you find your relationship with God through Jesus, unfettered by the shackles of empty religion. Seek Him. You will find Him. I sure did.

- Ma Strong

August 30, 2009
12:17 pm
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CrittleRen
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TO ALL: Thank you all so much for your words.

tBt: you got me thinking. Bear with me here, but maybe my faith is like a house plant. Every day it's there, but I forget to water it. There it sits, drying up, turning brown, leaves shriveled... but the roots are still there, still keeping the plant very much alive, waiting to be noticed and nurtured back to health. A little love, a little time, and a little prayer could be the key.

HEARTS: Thank you for the suggestion. I just might have to try that one out.

Ma Strong: I suppose that's been my biggest problem with it all so far. I haven't been able to find a congregation that wasn't full of hypocrites, or that wasn't a popularity contest for who wears the nicest sunday dress. I can't stand the pastors who ask for your last dollar to help the church, but it has a leaky roof and he's driving a brand new lincoln. This is part of the reason I won't go to church. I know that I can have a relationship with God and not go to church, but it seems to me there's something to be gotten from gathering with others to sing His praises. I need to broaden my search for the type of congregation that will suit me.

August 30, 2009
9:26 pm
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fantas
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CrittleRen,
The same spirit and need that has led you here will lead a place where you will experience your relationship with God. There is no one way to feel, think, or be. You also cannot look to people's behavior to feel what that's like because we all have fallen and continue to fall short of the glory of God.

I started by acknowledging that certain colors, places, songs, Scriptures, people, that made me feel closer to something I call God. So I stayed with those more and began to remove anything that made me feel distant from God as I defined it. The first place I had to literally drop was the church I was going to. Most toxic ministry I have ever seen. If there is a hell, that's lobby. After that, I slowly and surely found a place and people that I worship with in absolute peace and joy.

The people aren't perfect by any means but being there, in that space, allows to be more open to receive the grace with which to handle the conflicts and inconsistencies. Your soul knows where that place is for you. It starts in you and extends to a physical location.

What an exciting time for you!!

September 1, 2009
11:39 am
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caraway
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Ma,

I have never really heard you talk about your church and what you do. I found it interesting and would like to hear more about it. Is this something you have developed, or is this a more formal nationalized group.

Cary

September 1, 2009
4:18 pm
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StronginHim77
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Dear Caraway,

After serving in one church for 18 years (and 4 years in another church before that), I felt led of the Lord to follow my heart and establish my own ministry which is run HIS way...not by the "church-y" traditions of men. Although I have been an ordained minister for ten years, my heart would ACHE over the way I saw traditional church operating. Three lively hymns, followed by an opening prayer, Scripture reading, "announcements," 20 minute canned sermon, closing hymn, followed by brunch at the local country club. No one left the building with their hearts lifted or their lives changed. No one felt personally touched by God's Presence and compassion.

I longed for a true "Book of Acts" gathering of believers in Jesus Christ who shared one another's burdens, helped one another (instead of contributing to "building funds" and pastor's offices/staff) and allowed each gathering to be led by the Holy Spirit, instead of following a set "format" for each and every service, as traditional Christian churches do in Western culture today.

We are small...but growing rapidly. People are hearing about us and several new faces join us each week. Although I am a legally incorporated ministry, (so that individuals can donate to us financially as a tax deductible organization), our vision is to utilize a large percentage of all donations in a "Mercy Fund" for those in legitimate need...whether they are short on their mortgage or struggly to secure steady employment or unable to afford food, medical care, etc.

We have an outreach to recovering alcoholics and addicts. Soon, we hope to open a free Christian Counseling Center, staffed by our own volunters (two of whom hold degrees in Christian Counseling and Therapy. We will also offer referrals to all social services available in this city/county through a social worker and public nurse who are now part of our ministry team.

When we take communion together, it is not with dry wafers and grape juice in mini-cup. It is with warm, home-baked bread, honey-butter and glasses of wine (or grape juice...their choice).

When we meet each Sunday evening, no one leaves until each person's needs are met through group prayer, encouragement and personal ministry, one-on-one. I do some preaching...some teaching...and act as a facilitator (for lack of a better word), encouraging various leaders and more mature believers in the group to step out and minister to the younger, less mature or needier participants. It is a joy each week to see people entering with troubled and heavy hearts, but leaving with joyous countenances and strengthened shoulders because they received personal care, love and compassion from the Lord through their fellow believers.

That, I believe, is how "church" should be. And this is how believers gathered in the early church, as recorded in the Book of Acts.

Thanks for asking. Hope this answers your questions?

- Ma Strong

September 8, 2009
4:15 pm
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caraway
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MA,

Sounds great. The world needs more folks like you who are supportive and loving.

Cary

September 9, 2009
10:30 am
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StronginHim77
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Thanks for the encouragement, Caraway.

- Ma

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