How do you stay strong in Spirit?

Question: Good Day Brother! Recently, I stumbled across your work. I have struggled with hell for 33 years. I received Christ when I was 4. In my innocence, I was so happy that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.” But my bubble got popped by age 5, and I spent the next 3 decades believing in Jesus and being totally freaked about God and what he was going to do to the unsaved.

I don’t have many questions about hell theologically. I spent 5 years studying my brains out! Studying Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic and reading anything I could get my hands on. The church did a fantastic job tormenting my mind and scaring me to near faithlessness. So I’m learning how to heal and trust Jesus. Just Jesus. Not my knowledge or someone else. Learning to trust God’s perfect love, and as you say, “running TO his judgement not FROM it.” What a battle to relearn the simple love and trust I had at age 4!

My question is: How do you stay strong spiritually and emotionally in the midst of the nay-sayers? I want to be in unity with the church but sharing this “Good News” has become a lonely place. I first tried to share with one of our pastors a couple years ago. He came to our home with a stack of books, only to find my stack of books was bigger. He said he did not know enough to respond to me in the moment but saw no reason for me to fear fellowship in the church. Within a week the elder board was “informed” about me. And within 2 weeks he preached a sermon to the congregation on how it is a sin to think any portion of the English Bible has errors and heresy to believe anything but Eternal Conscious Torment. And those who did were deceived deceivers. So the message was sent pretty clearly (and indirectly) to me. I know I’m welcome to be there, but there really isn’t openness for me to share my heart or openly talk about it. This breaks my heart.

So, in quietness I worked on a blog for 2 years. Sharing my spiritual journey and the knowledge I found. My mom and husband gave me great encouragement and believed the blog could be helpful to some. I knew I would get nay-sayers, but I was not prepared for the wide range of emotional responses. I thought I was strong enough, just me, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and my awesome hubby and mom supporting me. But clearly, I’m designed for Christian community, and my soul feels lonelier than ever. I have taken the blog down for now. I wanted to help people. Not create an uproar.

I cannot afford to be bitter or unforgiving toward the church. When I go there, I can feel my heart getting hard and that only gives the enemy more fuel. I must stay open to the Lord and loving toward the church. So, how do you keep strong in your spirit? You clearly have the guts to put yourself out there and keep going. Bless you! I am so thankful for your writings and videos. Some days they are the only thing that help me feel connected to the body of Christ.

Response: It’s wonderful to hear from you! Here are some thoughts:

  1. This sounds trite, but God has provided strength when I need it…but I usually feel like I need more than what he provides. In other words, I struggle like you.
  2. God has also allowed me to encounter evil. Because of that I’m “afraid,” or maybe unwilling, to not say what I do say – that “God is Salvation.” In other words, I know how much satan hates the Gospel. God has used that to help me want to preach it. Jesus destroys the work of the devil and Jesus is the savior of the cosmos.
  3. Of course the Bible…I’ve studied it for so long. I really don’t know how to take it seriously without believing what it so obviously says.
  4. I’ve been delighted to learn that we are not at all alone, but in agreement with most of the early church and the world’s greatest theologians.
  5. .. It just makes sense…and most great theologians think so as well.
  6. My Dad. He was a good dad. If God is at least as good as my Dad, then he’s not into torture at all.
  7. I’m a Dad – I’m not into torture…but I will discipline my kids.
  8. ..I’ve begged God to kill me if I’m leading people astray. I’ve also told him that he could just give me the flu, if he didn’t want to kill me.
  9. Prophetic prayer: Visions etc. from people around me have really helped.
  10. I think I understand “the Flesh.” I think I get why people want others to lose, so they can feel as if they win.
  11. This may be the biggest: I just try to hang with Jesus. He lets me know that he was hated and reviled by people he loved. He was kicked out the synagogues (his church). He told us it would be like this… So actually, the fact that everyone used to like me, should’ve been more troubling than the day that everyone seemed to hate me. I try to suffer with Jesus, not away from Jesus. He will knit his body back together in time…but yes, for now the division hurts. I pray that you can suffer that pain with him…the head.
  12. My wife. She prays for me and reminds me who I am.

Well, those are some thoughts. Hope that helps. Love, Peter

P.S. I think he would tell you: “Thank you for being willing to suffer reproach for your love for me.”

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