Are you Spiritual or Psychotic?

Theresa, thank you for sharing this. I worked with a client who was schizophrenic and had an IQ around 60. We kept taking him to the psychiatrist, who asked the client if he saw things that other people didn’t. The client would then start pointing at the wall, the bookshelf, out the window, etc. The psychiatrist inevitably concluded that the client was still psychotic, and increased his meds to the max. When I talked with this client in a more casual and relaxed environment, he pointed out to me some of the things that he saw. A stick in the grass that looked like a snake. A new leaf growing on a plant (the leaf wasn’t there yesterday). Lines on the wall that made up an interesting design. It was all real to him and I could see it if I took the time to look and listen with him instead of trying to get him to stop “acting crazy.”

What if those of us who are religious and who believe that God is real and does care enough to communicate to us are detecting something that not everybody sees or feels, which is real. Maybe we don’t understand it completely or know how to explain it in terms that others understand. Maybe God is more advanced than we are, and catching a glimpse of Him is like my client noticing the wonders of nature and his environment.

The worst thing about spiritual abuse is that it invalidates the victim’s ability to discern and trust their own experience. That is essentially what all abuse does. It is spiritual abuse when you experience something and others discount your experience and tell you that you are just crazy. It is also spiritual abuse when someone imposes their ideas and philosophy on you in a forceful and harsh and destructive way. The abuser might be scientific or religious extremist, or a skeptic, or a fanatic – you name it. The result is a person who has been punished for seeing or not seeing something that the abuser disagreed with or was uncomfortable with. The victim loses the ability to have faith and trust in their own spirituality, be comfortable with religion and spiritual truths, etc. Or in a few cases these victims might abuse others whether in the same way or the opposite of what was told/done to them.

Healing comes when you can open yourself to your own experiences and see and accept them for what they are, and know that they are real to you.

The Empty Tomb

The Garden Tomb

The empty tomb represents Easter to me, more so than many other images. A tomb seems like a depressing thing, but the point about this one is that it is empty. There is noone there because death is conquered, and Jesus is alive, and we will also conquer death.

Not only death though. He conquered pain, and loneliness, and heartache, and sin, and fear, and the list goes on. And He wants to share all of those victories with us. He knows our hurts because he went through them for us, so that we will not have to bear the full burden.

That Easter morn, a grave that burst
Proclaimed to man that “Last and First”
Had ris’n again and conquered pain.

This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away,
Took living breath and conquered death.

This we in gratitude recall
And give our love and pledge our all,
Shed grateful tear and conquer fear.

If you are doubting, hold on. If you are hurting, remember that He loves you. If you have never known Him, He still knows you and loves you.

Happy Easter!

Communicating with God

How do you talk to God?  How does God talk to you?  How do you know that He hears you, and that you are really hearing Him and not just hearing what you want to hear or what some other source has to say?

These are all important questions.  I heard a lesson today in Sunday School that had some good answers.  The lesson is online, if you would like to read it: “I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost”

To outline it briefly, God communicates with us through the Holy Ghost.  We can hear this communication only if we are listening (just like you can only hear the radio if you have it turned on).  We also need to know how the Holy Ghost communicates with us, as it isn’t just like hearing a voice most of the time (and if I’m not listening and tuned in, I won’t even register what a person talking to me in the same room is saying – we have to listen).

This is how the Holy Ghost communicates:

  • He uses a still, small voice to communicate to our minds and hearts.
  • He enlightens our minds.
  • He brings peace to our minds.
  • He may cause a burning in the bosom.  (This is most likely felt as a sensation of warmth or comfort – I have felt it at times, and you will know it when it comes to you).
  • He often reveals things “line upon line, precept upon precept” rather than all at once.

There is more discussion of these points in the lesson, if you want to follow the link.  Or feel free to ask me if you want to know more, or if you don’t understand anything here.

 There are a few more things to remember.  First of all, we don’t always get the answer that we want, and we need to be willing to accept God’s answer.  He isn’t going to change His mind because we don’t like what we hear.  And sometimes it is really hard to hear what we don’t want to hear.  Especially when it isn’t clear or we aren’t used to communicating this way.  Also, this isn’t an answers on demand service.  God will show us His answers in his own time, and in His way, which isn’t always what we are looking for.  Keep listening.

 There are a couple of other points worth mentioning.  We aren’t going to get answers for other people that we aren’t responsible for.  I can expect to find out God’s will for me and sometimes for my children, or people who are placed in my care.  But I’m not going to get answers for you.  Maybe I will get a suggestion of what God would like me to do to help, but that’s as far as it goes.  So if I think that the Holy Ghost is whispering to me that you ought to move to Utah and be my new neighbor, then I need to check the source there.  It’s probably wishful thinking and maybe I’m confusing what I want to hear with what God really has to say about it (He’s not going to tell me something like that, because it isn’t my decision to make).

 And sometimes you ask, but you don’t get an answer.  What then?  Remember that God answers when He decides that we are ready, and in His way.  It can take a long time.  It is also possible that we might not be listening to what we need to listen to, or that we need to do something first (study, prepare, etc.)  Sometimes we just need to be patient.  But the answers will come when the time is right and when we need them and are ready.

Redeemer of our Pain

Have you ever thought of the full meaning of redemption?  I think I have mentioned it before, that Jesus suffered not only for our sins, but for our afflictions too.  Another aspect of it is that none of our experience is for nothing.  I’m not saying that God wants us to suffer, but He will make our sufferings something to help us grow and learn and become more than we could have without them.  I read this message which was found in a scrapbook and then was placed in a book about grief, and I thought the message was powerful and needed to be shared.  Healing is available through Him.

God Does Not Waste Anything
God will not waste anything if we give Him a chance to redeem it. He is not only a Redeemer of our sins, but He is a Redeemer of our circumstances as well. He will not waste a single problem, a single heartache, a single tear, a single grief. Our God is a Redeemer God, and He stands minute by minute before us, inviting us to let Him have the sorrow, to let Him have the pain, the grief, to let Him have the disappointment and to trust Him to make something useful, something creative of every tragedy that darkens our lives.
Surviving the Loss of a Loved One – Anthony M. Coniaris

Light at the tunnel’s end

We must sometimes face challenges and difficulties. At times there appears to be no light at the tunnel’s end…no dawn to break the night’s darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, the despair of vanished hopes. We all join in uttering the biblical plea, is there no balm in Gilead? We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.

Thomas S. Monson

For me, this is the essential message. This is what I have been trying to say. It’s what it is all about. There is hope, and there is help and comfort available. No matter what you are going through or have been through, God has not abandoned you.

Especially for those who turn away from God and from religion because of their hurts and having associated their pain with something that is meant to be healing, I wish that you could hear this message and know that God is love. Anything else does not come from this source. Some people make mistakes, and some use God’s name for their own purposes, and none of that is of God. God offers healing and relief, and love. You’re not alone.

And the theme is Freedom of Religion

Another book that jumped out at me today was the Book of Daniel.  One of the speakers in church talked about Daniel having the faith and courage to continue to pray to his God, knowing that his enemies had tricked King Darius into signing a decree that anyone asking a petition of any God or man other than King Darius must be cast into the lions den.  Daniel continued to practice his religion, and not to hide it.  In fact, he prayed in front of his open window.

You probably know the story.  The men who had gotten the decree were watching Daniel, and they took him before the king, who was not able to change a decree once signed, and had to put Daniel into the lions den.  But Darius knew how strong Daniel’s faith was, and Darius told Daniel that God would deliver him, and then Darius went home and fasted that night for Daniel’s benefit, and was glad in the morning to find Daniel unharmed.

My daughter asked, “Didn’t the king make a new decree that everyone would worship Daniel’s God?”  And I explained to her that such a decree would have been contrary to the gospel.  God does not force anyone to worship Him, but allows us all choice.  He gives signs, and He may punish those who knowingly fight against Him and lead others astray.  But He allows us all the freedom to choose.

Here is the new decree that King Darius made when Daniel was saved from the lions den:

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

That sounds like a testimony to me. Also consider the similar story about Daniel’s friends, who were serving under Nebuchadnezzar. A decree had been made that all must worship a golden image created by Nebuchadnezzar, or be cast into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel’s friends refused to worship a false god, and were cast into the furnace, but they were protected by God and were not harmed.

Nebuchadnezzer also made a decree:

That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Okay, I will give you that the penalty was extreme, but my point is that the true God does not compel people to worship in one way or another, but allows choice. Men have set themselves up as authorities and tried to control how others practice religion, or have declared false teachings, and ultimately it doesn’t work out so well for those men.

Another observation that I would ask you to notice is that it is men who try to control and to use force and threats and violence to compel others to follow their way. That is not God’s way. The only times when God causes death or pain to come upon someone are when someone is actively going about harming others by deliberately leading them astray, and that person knows what they are doing and refuses after being warned to stop. Those who use threats and terror and force to control and compel others are not of God. God’s way is peace and love and healing.

Recognizing false teachings

This chapter of the Book of Mormon really leaped out at me today and I wanted to share it, for anyone interested.

What strikes me as relevant is how this passage reveals the lies that the adversary uses to disguise his message and make it look like it makes sense.  The story in this chapter is about an “antichrist” called Korihor, who goes about teaching that there is no God. 

 First, what is an “antichrist?”  My Bible Dictionary says that this is “a word used by John to describe one who would assume the guise of Christ, but in reality would be opposed to Christ.”  Also, “In a broader sense it is anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel or plan of salvation and that openly or secretly is set up in opposition to Christ. The true antichrist is Lucifer, but he has many assistants, both as spirit beings and as mortals.”

Korihor lived about 2000 years ago, shortly before Christ was born, in America.  During this particular time there were wars between the people who followed God, and those who didn’t.  The believers had been taught that Christ would be born, and were looking forward to that event.  Among the followers of God, “there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.”  Therefore, it was legal for Korihor to teach what he believed.  Korihor exercised his right to free speech by going about attacking others’ beliefs, telling them that they were “foolish” to believe, because

  • no man can know of anything which is to come
  • prophecies are “foolish traditions of your fathers”
  • you can’t know things you don’t see
  • looking forward to remission of sins is “the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your mind comes because of the traditions of your fathers”
  • basically it’s every man for himself
  • do anything you want to do because there is no crime or sin
  • when you die, that’s all there is

Well, Korihor kept preaching and some people believed him, but some had a problem with these teachings and took Korihor to visit the authorities.  Since this preaching wasn’t illegal, all they did was talk with him, but Korihor couldn’t keep his lies straight.  I’ll let you read that discussion for yourselves – follow the link above.  It’s pretty good. 

In the end, Korihor kept making false accusations, and insisting that there was no God.  Alma was a prophet, and Alma discerned that Korihor really did know that there was a God, and was lying.  Korihor asked for proof, and a sign.  Alma told him that all things are a sign: “Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote that there is a God; yea even the earth, and all things upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

Of course Korihor kept pushing for a sign.  Alma had tried his best, and now told Korihor, to paraphrase, here’s your sign – you will be struck dumb.  Korihor could speak no more, and wrote that he always knew there was a God and he had been preaching what the devil told him to say, because it was “pleasing unto the carnal mind.”

Unfortunately, the message that Korihor preached is still being preached today.  It isn’t my place to judge or to call anyone an “antichrist” because I don’t know whether anyone spreading false teachings really knows the truth or if they are victims of what they were taught.  But I can recognize the message and its ultimate source.

 I know that God is real, and He lives, and Christ was sent and did provide the way for us to return home.  What we say and what we do, or what we don’t say and don’t do, matters.  I know which side I am on.  Do you know which side you are fighting for?  Which message are you listening to?  It makes a difference.

Silencing the Christians

Do you ever get the feeling that you are discriminated against because of your beliefs, and if you try to say anything, then you get blamed for it because you are considered “majority” and therefore can’t be discriminated against?  If so, then you are not alone.  Any time a rule is applied in one way to one group, and differently or not at all to other groups, that is discrimination.  It has happened throughout history and it continues now.  How many Christians were killed for their belief?  Countless numbers, and it still happens. 

Christians are not blameless.  Christians have also discriminated, and have also done terrible things.  To name any one group as an oppressor and blame them would be to discriminate, and that is not what I want to do.  Just like intergenerational cycles of abuse, the patterns repeat throughout history.  One group is persecuted, but survives and eventually comes into power.  They learn by the way that they were treated that the way to survive and not lose power and be the victim is to keep others out of power.  And so hate develops in some (really only a small portion of the members of a group).  And the cycle repeats.  It is very sad.  And that some people do terrible things usually indicates that the people doing terrible things are using the name of the group to increase their own power.  It should not negate all the good that the group or set of beliefs has to offer.

What I am saying is that all of us, whether Christian or something else, need to consider whether rules really are being applied evenly and fairly.  Often they are not.  And these days Christians are as likely to be victims as anyone else, but it seems that Christians are less likely to receive sympathy.  But is that a discriminatory statement right there? I don’t know.

I was just told about a TV show about how Christians are being silenced and discriminated against.  There are many examples such as a mom who was told that she could not read from the Bible to her son’s class, but they told her to read a book about witches instead; all the way up to church shootings.  If you are interested, there is a website where you can watch trailers, sign up for episodes of the show, and find out where to watch it. 

Speechless: Silencing the Christians

Bible Study

can now be found on Tomi’s At Jesus’ Feet blog (see blogroll for link), on it’s own page.  The transcripts and information to join the chat are there.  Also watch for the announcement each week in General.  The page is long, with all of those transcripts, so be patient.  You will find the newest at the bottom.

 Here’s that link:

Thinking & Practicing the word for Peace

I am currently working on creating peace in my life through God…it is what I seek most in life currently. This scripture was pointed out to me by a prayer partner at church. I wanted to share it with you. As I was listening to a sermon today it was mentioned that we must stand on scripture as the seeds which will grow in our lives, so I am going to stand on, read, and speak the following to help grow peace in my life.  Do you have more scriptures about peace you could share with me?

Philipians 4:4-4:9

 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.