Spiritual, Supernatural Things (Part 2)

Atheism caught my eye in mid-January. Before then, I had always pictured atheists as stubborn 20-something intellectuals who, in their perceived invincibility, thought themselves smarter and better than believers. True, some atheists fit this description. But in January I met the de-converts via the blogging world. These atheists had once been church-going believers who for various reasons began to doubt and eventually rejected deism altogether. They had been among us.

And to be quite honest, this scared me. How is it possible that someone who had known the love of Jesus would willingly walk away? My mind couldn’t grasp it. Once I got past the intellectual arguments, what I found was that for many of these people, God simply wasn’t there for them when they needed Him. And at this pivotal point, doubt entered in — doubt about the Bible being one of the biggies. Without the Bible, Christianity falls apart (at least for us modern-day believers who did not actually see Jesus in the flesh). And what scared me the most is that this could happen to any one of us, even me.

I prayed all that week, and on a Friday night I asked my small group to pray with me — to pray for a particular deconvert who seemed lodged in my spirit, for me, and just for belief in general. I was beginning to think that maybe I was obsessed and should let it go, until the next day.

It was just a regular Saturday. After we ate breakfast as a family, my 6-year old daughter went into the other room to play and color. After a while she brought us something she had been writing. This isn’t unusual for her — she has always loved letters and words, and frequently writes sweet things to us like “I Love Mom” or “I love Dad.” She almost always asks us to help her spell things, and her pictures and words are always very positive. So imagine my shock when she brought me my Christian devotional book, and on the cover she had written “I do NOT bilef in this book.”

I asked her what it meant, and she said it means she doesn’t believe. So my husband said, “Sweetie, do you know what this book is about?” and she said no. He said, “It’s about God.” And her face was shocked, and she grabbed the pen and crossed out the words. I tried to remember if she had heard me talking about belief with our small group the night before, but she had been upstairs playing with her friends during our prayer time. Was this a coincidence, or something else?

The next morning I prayed for God to give me insight, and the name “Unbelief” came to me. Not doubt, but Un-Belief — the undoing of belief. And so I prayed for specific scripture verses, to use against this spirit named “Unbelief” (one of our offensive weapons for spiritual warfare is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, from Ephesians 6:17). And the following verses came to mind:

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” John 10:9-10.

I’ll let you make your own conclusions about this. It COULD have been a coincidence. But for me it was a reminder that the enemy doesn’t play nice.

32 thoughts on “Spiritual, Supernatural Things (Part 2)

  1. Powerful experience, underlining the fact that Satan is the Prince of Power of the Air.

    Now also, when these things happen – and remember the Lord allowed it to happen in the midst of prayerful defenses – one has to ask: why us?

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  2. Larry, I think a lot of it goes back to my earlier post, when I asked God for spiritual eyes. It’s not all good out there in the spiritual realm, so while I want to see God at work it makes sense that I might “see” the other side, too. I am grateful that God allowed it, because it gave me greater opportunity to pray over my family and know what we’re up against.

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  3. Robert, I just checked out the Amazon page for this book. Here’s an excerpt from the description: “For about two decades John W. Loftus was a devout evangelical Christian, an ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and an ardent apologist for Christianity…By the late 1990s he experienced a full-blown crisis of faith, brought on by emotional upheavals in his personal life as well as the gathering weight of the doubts he had long entertained.”

    This is what I mean when I say it could be any one of us. This is what happens when we take emotional upheaval, long-entertained doubts, and sit down beside Unbelief. Our faith is stolen and destroyed.

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  4. Not necessarily. Mother Theresa struggled her whole life with doubt, yet remained a (nominal) believer.

    The point is, many avenues can lead to a loss of faith. Why faith should remain unexamined is something I’ll never understand. Have you seriously examined your beliefs? Really put them to the test?

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  5. Doubt is normal. Have you ever noticed that in the Bible those who doubt and still honestly seek God get the most personal, intimate answers?

    I do agree that everyone should examine their faith. I have, and do on a regular basis. I feel that if God is really that amazing, then He should be able to handle my questions. And so far He has not let me down. But there’s a spiritual something at play, too. Mother Teresa may have doubted, but she died a believer because she wouldn’t entertain Unbelief.

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  6. Atheist are not born, Anna. We’re made. You’ll notice something about de-cons. We were almost all true believers. You’ll rarely find a nominal Christian who becomes an atheist. So, it can’t happen to anyone, just the ones really serious about it. Further, of those hardcore believers, most don’t believe like we do. We believe the reality of righteous conduct was more important the reality of spiritual feelings. The focus of our kind of Christianity was always authenticity of belief, never sincerity of it.

    And for a lot of us, the lost broke our hearts, and the Church broke them twice. First by not caring for the lost. Second, by not caring that we we’re broken for the lost. To people like us, the sermon on the mount was a battle plan, a way to advance the Kingdom. To most people it wasa pleasant thing to read.

    We tried to teach people in the Church, but we could never get leadership positions, since most people would rather feel good than bad, teachers, preachers, prophets, etc that focused on how good it feels to belong to God were always picked over us, who’s message was how bad if feels to not be God’s so lets go heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and preach the gospel so they don’t have to feel that way was never heard more than once.

    We didn’t know why God made us to feel so broken all the time, and the Church often as not, rejected us for our broken hearts. We weren’t happy enough for them to see us as real believers. Rejected by God, Rejected by the his family, we became more and more despondent as dying world continued to die, and entertainment worshiping church continued to entertain.

    Our broken hearts lead our minds to find reasons to doubt. Our minds found solid reasons to doubt and we were tormented by this new way we had found to fail expectations of God and his Bride.

    Finally, for many of us, atheism was belief system that offered us an alternative to suicide.

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  7. truthwalker, your comment is a candid and heartbreaking look at deconversion, and I so much appreciate your honesty. In many ways I identify with what you have said, especially in the past few years since asking for spiritual eyes. The brokenness and pain in our world seem more apparent to me now. We are so lost, even among believers.

    I had a conversation on the phone with a fellow church member today, and she said something that struck me. She said that she doesn’t like it when people talk about how the Church has messed up (since I have been one of these people I just listened for a while). She said the Church is a spiritual entity, the Bride of Christ. It’s the humanity and evil in the church that messes everything up. And yes, evil CAN be in the church, as we see all the time in the headlines, this week being no exception.

    I guess for me I find hope that New Testament writers talked about these very struggles, and many of their writings were about darkness that infiltrates the church and how to stand against it.

    I like what you said about the sermon on the mount being a battle plan.

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  8. Hi Anna,
    There is something that I have become aware of that does not help Christians struggling with doubt, and perhaps this is the fault of church leadership today.
    If you are willing to go out into the community and serve God, to get out of the building and serve God you will get persecuted as Christ promised, You will see people manifest demonically, as Christ experienced, you will pray for the sick and see God glorified, you will feed the hungry and see hardened hearts softened. You will find people trapped in the depths of sin, you will see God respond to your prayers, and so on………so what am I saying.
    Hide your light under a bushell, guess what, it goes out. Fail to bare fruit and what happens, the Lord lets it die.
    If the Church would send it’s people out they would soon find out that all of the things Christ taught us are relevant for today, and their faith would be strengthened.
    Much, not all, but much of the western church has built something which today resembles an entertainment industry, and we wonder why our lamps are going out.
    Bless you
    Tim

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  9. Doubt is normal. Have you ever noticed that in the Bible those who doubt and still honestly seek God get the most personal, intimate answers?

    Yes, Jesus makes a personal appearance to them, in the flesh (John 20:24-29). I’m curious, why he doesn’t do that now.

    I feel that if God is really that amazing, then He should be able to handle my questions. And so far He has not let me down.

    Did you ask God about the historicity of the Old Testament stories? What did He say?

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  10. “Did you ask God about the historicity of the Old Testament stories? What did He say?”

    Robert, it’s funny that you bring this up. Just this week I had a dream with the word “saab” in it. When I woke up, I knew that God was bringing me a message. But what? To buy a car? I looked it up on the web and it turns out that saab is an alternate spelling of the word “sha’ab,” a village in Israel. I did a news search on this word and found the most interesting archeological story, from just this week. Amazing how He works.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/130829

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  11. Please don’t try to de-con Anna. She’s one of the nicest Christians I know. I like her like this and I don’t want her to have spend the next 2 years re-learning how to have purpose without Jesus. Near as I can tell from her blog and comments, she exemplifies the best of Christianity. She’s not a televangelist, she’s not a creation science demonstrator, she not telling people not to go to doctors because she can heal them. De-con this lady, http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/ she’s a lovable fruit cake. (Be nice though, she reminds me of my mom.)

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  12. wow, truthwalker — thank you for your very kind remarks.

    I don’t plan on being de-conned anytime soon. I like putting my faith to the test, and making sure I have anchored it to the Truth rather than someone else’s version of it. But in coming back to my original post, I am careful about how far I allow myself to go. It’s one thing to doubt and question. Quite another to say that I don’t believe anymore, or don’t want to believe. It’s not like I could wake up the next day and change my mind. Because there’s something spiritual that happens when someone decides to not believe anymore, some-thing that has claws, and teeth, and a firm grip.

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  13. Robert, you asked me if God had talked to me about the historicity of the Old Testament, and I said yes in fact just this week in a dream God told me about this ancient village, that just happened to have major archeological finds relating directly to the historicity of the Old Testament. I read the link from Nova you provided and it was a good look at what archeology can and can’t prove. What I find most interesting is that the article about the ancient village, actually adds to the article you linked to. At the time of that writing (Nova, 2007) they did not have this information found in 2009. (compare the third paragraph of the archeological story to the section “Origins of Israel” in the Nova story).

    Who knew a dream could bring so much?

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  14. Tim — you said: “If the Church would send it’s people out they would soon find out that all of the things Christ taught us are relevant for today, and their faith would be strengthened.”
    This is so true. When I have seen God work the most has been when I stretched myself out there into uncomfortable places. And it’s not like I had to fly to Africa and live among third-world villagers. Right here, in my suburb! Do you think it’s possible to change this disturbing “entertainment” trend in our churches?

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  15. “Do you think it’s possible to change this disturbing “entertainment” trend in our churches?”

    Though my name is not Tim, your question is a valid one. My guess is that barring any calamities (natural or terrorist related), churches will not change their modus operandis. Once they tickle ears, they continue to do it. Why? Because it works in filling up the pews.

    Now, if you would have stated the question in such a way as to refer to The Church rather than our churches, than I would have answered: Yes! It is already working in businesses, homes, coffee shops, etc.

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  16. “truthwalker, can you remember the moment you decided not to believe?”

    Ma’am, you misunderstand what an atheist is. An atheist is not person who chooses not to believe in a God they see. An atheist is a person who cannot see God. There is an enormous difference. I know God is profoundly self evident to you. It’s probably very hard for you to conceptualize looking at the world and not seeing God, but that is the way the world looks to me.

    The real question is: when did I stop seeing God? As trite as this sounds, when I started looking. I was motivated by the the signs of Moses and I Kings 18. If you ever noticed, the first signs that Moses and Aaron do are duplicated by the Pharaoh’s magicians. This is because they we’re common Egyptian slight-of-hand tricks, still common to street performers in that region of the world. It was the plagues that showed the power of God because they could not be duplicated in human strength. Again with Elijah’s sacrifice, the failure of false prophets was not enough. Elijah had to show God’s beyond human power by completely dousing the sacrifice. (This also showed God’s wealth, it was a drought.)

    We, my church and I, were committed to seeing God move in power and authority, the way he had in the early Church. We were convinced that one of the reasons the Church was diminishing was because no one prayed enough. “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” “Ask and you will receive” We thought that most people, fearing disappointment, asked God for small, vague things. We prayed for huge, specific things.

    I was really excited about “pouring water on the sacrifice” looking forward to seeing God in new and powerful way. Also, by ensuring miracles were of God, and not man, we would rid ourselves of false teachers and false prophets.

    The harder I looked for God, the less of him I found. At that time, there was (supposedly) a revival in Fiji. The claim being made was that God was miraculously healing the damage to coral reef that had been caused by years of environmental mismanagement (i.e. greed). People were really praising God in our church because of it.

    So I spent about two days doing everything I could to research Fiji. These claims were not backed up by anybody. At all. Even the Christian press. The only evidence was a video made by a church in Fiji. When I stood up and said this, my church said I was being attacked by a demon of doubt.

    God got a lot harder to see after that.

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  17. My husband had a birthday a while back and I wanted to surprise him with hockey tickets that I paid for myself (I promise this relates), and since I’m a stay-at-home mom/writer I don’t have much income of my own. I decided that God would multiply my money, to not only pay for the hockey tickets, but that I would get discounted great seats, and enough money to pay for parking and babysitting. I prayed earnestly, with a pure heart, wanting to do something really super-nice for my Godly husband. But it didn’t happen that way – even though I prayed with great faith. Even so, he was really surprised and we all had a great time. But God didn’t perform for me in the flashy way I wanted Him to.

    And early this week I had a dream about the word “saab,” and it seemed that God was trying to tell me something. I could have ignored it, as a silly dream. Instead I tried to find out more, I did research, bookmarked web pages, and drove my husband nuts with musings about these giant feet in ancient Israel. And when Robert here asks me if God recently “told” me anything about the Old Testament, I suddenly understood why I dreamt that. Because I’m not a history person. And if I hadn’t paid attention to the dream I would have not been able to effectively answer his question. To be honest I have not ever doubted or even questioned the historicity of the Old Testament stories. I have been too concerned with other issues like evolution and the existence of evil.

    Who knows why God speaks in some ways, to some people? I think front-row hockey tickets for free would have been a great miracle. I’m sorry the Fiji revival didn’t seem to be authentic, and it’s unfortunate that your church reacted that way. Jude 22 tells us to be merciful to those who doubt.

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  18. So you believe in the historicity of the Old Testament based on a dream?

    Ok.

    truthwalker wrote,

    Please don’t try to de-con Anna. She’s one of the nicest Christians I know.

    I’m not trying to “de-con” Anna any more than she’s trying to “convert” me. I only seek to understand why people–religious people, in particular–believe the things they do. In her case, her belief in the OT seems very much akin to how LDS believe in the truth of the Book of Mormon (e.g., a perceived personal revelation).

    If Anna is an extremely nice person, is it because she is commanded to (John 15:12)? Or is it because it’s a learned behavior? If the former, then she’s merely following orders and her true attitude is suspect. If the latter, then she’ll always be a nice person regardless of her religious beliefs.

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  19. robert and truthwalker,

    I agree that Anna is a loving, gracious woman. Anyone can see that from her writing. Sadly, I am not like her, but since she has an open comment format, I can speak.

    ROBERT said: “Mother Theresa struggled her whole life with doubt, yet remained a (nominal) believer…”

    This so-called doubting by Mother Theresa has been taken out of context from her personal journals. It was her inner most thoughts during some tough times in her life. Most likely she suffered some depression. Then, to say that she was a “nominal” believer is absolutely, positively false. She was a woman of faith and walked in love.

    Her whole life revolved around Matthew 25: 40.

    As they say in baseball, “Strike one.”

    TRUTHWALKER: I assume that you gave your life to Christ and that you enjoyed a salvation experience. And I also assume that you have been hurt by other Christians.

    So from that perspective, when you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ as a believer – not an atheist – and you see the abundant grace that the Lord has placed on your life, who are you going to blame for ending up as one of the least in the Kingdom of God? The Christians who have hurt you.

    Sadly, it will be just you and Jesus standing there. But then again, at least you won’t go to Hell.

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  20. This so-called doubting by Mother Theresa has been taken out of context from her personal journals. It was her inner most thoughts during some tough times in her life. Most likely she suffered some depression. Then, to say that she was a “nominal” believer is absolutely, positively false. She was a woman of faith and walked in love.

    “The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.

    That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated.” (emphasis mine)

    Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith

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  21. “…she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist…”

    Thanks. This statement proves that she was a mighty woman of faith because her public statements and her works always, always led people to her Master, Jesus.

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  22. ROBERT: “Did you ask God about the historicity of the Old Testament stories?…”

    Hmm! Where do we begin?

    Josh McDowell wrote quite a few books on apologetics in which he claims that the two most accurate books of antiquity are the New Testament (99+%) and the Old Testament (98+%). The disagreements tend to be in punctuation marks here and there. Now, this is the result of reviewing about 24,000 New Testament scrolls and thousands of Old Testament scrolls.

    Now compare these manuscripts with other ones, say the Quarran, The Iliad and the Odyssey. These works are about 50-60% accurate. And yet, every scholar holds them up as accurate works of truth.

    The Quarran was written in part on palm leaves and supposedly animals ate part of the manuscripts. What if this is where salvation is explained? Or the seventy-two virgins? Oh well, too bad, right?

    Now, let’s look at the holy bible for all atheists, “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution”. Since, Darwin proposed his theory, not one claim has ever been proven to be accurate for intra-species evolution. Not one claim. Not an itsy-bitsy one. Not one.

    Every single, supposed, missing link has been proven to be a hoax, a sham and a lie. Every one. Why?

    And when scientific method is applied to Darwin’s Theory, trying to make this cockamamie work under laboratory observation, guess what? It fails every time. Why?

    Isn’t funny how hard atheists hold onto Darwin’s Theory of Evolution which is always proven wrong and yet make fun of the Bible which is always proven correct?

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  23. Hi Anna… wow, what a thread! hot subject??? : )

    I should offer a few insights.. one. to deny the enemy is to let the ‘dog’ off its leash, to pay it too much lip service (even thought service) is to take your eyes off Christ. Continue to gently love your daughter as I’m sure you are doing fine. If there is one thing I’ve learned about the ‘spiritual realm’ is that yes, we can respond to the nudges of the enemy as easily as we can to God’s… just as I’ve seen non believer’s respond to both as well. Be aware, but not afraid.

    two. we were just talking in my church about faith as a spiritual gift… and perhaps we need unbelievers to push believers to deeper spiritual paths. Using Thomas as an exmple, you have to wonder if this ‘doubt’ was allowed to well in him to play out the resurrection in the very real way the the story plays out… we needed to see Christ’s wounds. We just did.

    three. Why I believe. I know A LOT of unbelievers who will ask me why I would when so much tragedy has happened in my life… I respond that it’s because of the tragedy that I DO believe! Can you imagine living this life for no reason at all?? Love is the ultimate reason to go on! I have seen too many lives saved to have any doubt… but that’s me.

    four. Larry- we are good friends… and I can always count on you to give me a launching pad!!!! I gotta tell you. I belong to certainly the biggest church in town, and we are a member of one of the largest evangelical churches in America, but we as a communtiy change as organicly as the small groups you speak of… in fact, we DO meet at Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, homes… the like. WE are the church, it won’t change if WE don’t change… if we turn our backs on organized religion because of the ‘exculiveness’ of the few in it, do we not become exclusive ourselves??? Is it not better to love the church into the fold, sometimes…. even in my church, I wonder if the greater opportunity to evangelize is WITHIN the church right now, so that mixed messages are stopped.
    Let’s face it… there are too many yoohoos on TV with megaphones representing US!!! That should make our blood boil!

    spiritual warfare, faith, doubt, the emergent church movement… you HAVE to love this thread Anna!!

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  24. Oh, Larry… *sigh* Atheism is a theology, not a whole packaged paradigm. As such, Darwin’s book is more like Summa Theologica than the Bible. A book more roughly comparable to Bible for English speaking atheists is The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World). If you really want to know what us atheists are thinking, that’s the the book to read. About as many atheists have read Origin of the Species cover to cover as Christians have read the Summa Theologica cover to cover.

    And AIG means Answers in Genesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answers_in_Genesis

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  25. “if I would have not seen the goodness of God in the land of the living, I would have lost hope”.

    Just this morning I grasped the Bible and crying, I asked God is anything in here true anymore? What it says in here about your will, does it matter anymore? How can I know that you care? Not two minutes later I received a message from a young believer whom I befriended. He said, “I got football player of the year and you’re the first one I’m telling haha.”

    Put in context of the emotional state that I have been in the last 4 weeks, that being strong emotional pain and suicidal; this message was a Godsend. This young man for some simple praise of his working the gift God has given him and encouraging him, has me out to be, “a great friend”. He says, “don’t worry Stan, I’ll never stop praying for you and I will never forget you!” I don’t recall expressing concern about either of those things.

    God shows His love and goodness to us through other people.

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