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Over Time

I’ve noticed over time an awkward pain that can show up in followers of Christ in their later years.

My first memory of what I’m referring to came when an aging pastor invited me as a young man to have lunch with him.  I’m sure that we talked about many things in the hour or so that we had together. But  one thing I remember so clearly… is seeing in his eyes the hesitance with which he admitted to me that he was beginning to have doubts about what he had always believed about the nature and torments of hell. I remember at the time thinking that age was making him soft.

In the decades since then I’ve seen that same pain show up again and again in many aging men and women– about any number of issues. Admittedly, it’s not always the case. Some of us seem to grow more brittle not only in bones, but also in attitude. Some are more inclined to see winds of change only in the young and not in the old.

But the changes of perspective that I have seen in older people, including myself, leave me with the thought that the years don’t just multiply our days. The decades can also divide our ways.

Time can help us sort what we think we know  into mental buckets of things we regard as:

  • Certainly true
  • Probably true
  • Possibly true
  • Probably false
  • Possibly false
  • Certainly false

Which means that the number of things we are sure about can become less…even as our perspective and certainty about what is important grows, and deepens…

Would be interested to know whether you’ve seen something similar, and what kind of questions, concerns, and reassurances it has raised…

Note: I took the picture of the buckets on a 2008 visit to a Jerusalem archeological project in which construction debris that had been controversially removed from a “holy site” was being painstakingly sorted into pieces of i.e. glass, pottery, metal.

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99 Responses to “Over Time”

  1. bubbles says:

    Two things, no, three things I am sure of:

    1. God loves us.

    2. Hell is real.

    3. Jesus is coming back for us.

    I want Jesus to come and get us, but when I think of those not ready and that they will spend eternity in Hell, then I am not sure I want Jesus to come, just yet.

    Hell is real. Reading about the rich man who in hell makes it real to me. I don’t want that for anyone.

  2. SFDBWV says:

    I would suppose that what we believe, why we believe, why we doubt or why we are unyielding all is about the psychology and circumstances that makes us who we are and also what makes us different from one another.

    Even when we try to come together around a common belief such as all of us being followers of Jesus, we find all of the same reasons for why we may agree or disagree.

    I once raised a foster daughter who had a boy friend who was a hopeless liar. He learned early in his life that to lie protected him and if he lied enough he could confuse the very people he was lying to and cause them to actually doubt what they knew to be true.

    Our beliefs in God, in Jesus, in the Bible are all based on *Faith*. We are not given to relying on what we see, touch, feel, smell and taste. No we subsist on *Faith*.

    We read that faith comes by hearing and by hearing the word of God. Why is this? Why is it the only sense the Bible relates to *believing*?

    Is it because when we hear the truths of Scripture, they somehow speak to our spiritual beings and our spiritual beings are fed and encouraged by this one act alone?

    Doubts are a wedge driven between what we believe and the deeper the wedge is driven the wider the gap and the gap is always filled with confusion and fear. Who is the author of confusion; the enemy of our faith, Satan.

    If you have doubts about Heaven or Hell, go to the author of *Truth* and read what it is He has to say on the matter, because what you may believe doesn’t make anything true, but what God says does.

    We are told to hold on to what little faith we have and trust in Him as we await His rescue even unto death.

    If Mart you are wanting to know what sort of things we may have changed our minds about over the years of being Christian, well maybe I can talk of that in my next post.

    We had a rain snow mix yesterday and a gray cold 37 degrees this morning.


  3. cherielyn says:


    Re: “But one thing I remember so clearly… is seeing in his eyes the hesitance with which he admitted to me that he was beginning to have doubts about what he had always believed about the nature and torments of hell.”

    Can you explain, in more detail, what that aging pastor shared about his doubts about the nature and torments of hell?

    At age 66 (as of today) the only doubts I have stumbled with, over the years, was when I started doubting whether my acceptance of Christ and profession of salvation, as a child of 9 years old, was real. At one point, the doubts became so heavy, that I accepted Christ again, as if for the first time. If I wasn’t sure before, I was and am atill, ever since my “second conversion.” I still find that I sin, but know that I am forgiven.

    I read, with interest, one of Gary’s later posts on the previous subject. I can understand, somewhat, where he is coming from, in regards to temptation. When tempted, a person has to give thought to whether they are going to act on or resist the temptation. It is conscious sin when a person acts on the temptation and, thereby, knowingly sins.

    One example might be seeing some small item in a store and wanting it, but not being able to afford it. The temptation might come to mind that, “It is so small that I could just slip it in my pocket and no one would know.” Fleeing from that temptation by not acting on that thought and asking Christ to take the thought from your mind and ask forgiveness for even entertaining the thought would be a conscious effort of resisting temptation and therefore not sinning.

    But, what about those times, in the course of the day, when a person (spouse) gets under your skin so much that unintended words come out of the mouth in anger? It is a spontaneous response and it IS SIN, but not one in which a person is tempted and contemplating whether to do it or not.

    I have to ask forgiveness on a pretty daily basis for such sin. I also pray that He will give me the strength to bear up under the pressure and put His hand over my mouth. In spite of that, I still find that I struggle with that problem EVERY DAY!

    Have to leave for a meeting shortly, so no time to continue sharing my thoughts.

    49 degrees in NE WI at 6:50 a.m.

  4. cherielyn says:

    correction: I was am am STILL….

  5. cherielyn says:

    And still another typo. Wish we could edit our mistakes.

  6. Bill says:

    Good Morning Mart and Friends!

    This could very well be one of the most important blogs Mart has ever posted. It is profound, with wide-reaching implications for each of us. It affects not only our personal health and well being (not being mentally “brittle”) but also our corporate health (how we get along with one another) and our witness to the world (what the world sees us do and hears us say).

    I could probably wax eloquent (or, at least, verbose) on this topic. But I won’t.

    I will say this, however:

    1. Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge. It asks the question “How do we know what we know?” Or even, more fundamentally, “What is it we know for sure?” Philosophers have wrestled with the topic of knowledge, and what we are sure about, for a few thousands years.

    2. Zen tackles this subject as well, and has for over a thousand years. Zen asks the question, “What is it?” And always answers with, “Don’t know.” The reason for that answer is because Zen practitioners want to keep their minds, emotions, and thoughts open to the potential in each moment, each encounter. So the only thing a student of Zen knows for a certainty is “just this moment.”

    In my case, my “just this moment” is Bill typing on a MacBook Pro, listening to Classical guitar music playing over the P.A. at Panera, a bagel slicer singing its raucous song, customers waiting in line, a car just pulled up outside the window where I sit, its headlights streaming into the building, illuminating my right side…a mug of Light Roast coffee cooling on the ledge beside me.

    That’s what I know without a shadow of a doubt. I know because I am here experiencing it.

    Mart wrote: “Which means that the number of things we are sure about can become less…even as our perspective and certainty about what is important grows, and deepens…”

    I can relate to that. What I thought I was sure about a few decades ago I no longer know for a certainty. Predestination and Election, for example. Or homosexuality. Or who goes to Hell and who doesn’t. Or what salvation truly means. Or even what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and for whom. The hard-and-fast beliefs I learned in my early days as a Christian have become less rigid to me as I have gotten older.

    That’s partly because I have spent a great deal of time with Interfaith and Interspiritual studies, striving hard to understand others, not passing judgment, merely opening my eyes, ears…and heart. I have adopted a bit of Zen in that I try to be open to each moment, being aware of others, sensitive to their needs — and less focused on myself. I have read (with as open a mind as possible) books from Christian authors who are part of a growing church trend toward praxis (action), authors who have a different take on the Bible’s words and what they mean.

    My objective has been to get outside myself, get out of my own head, out of my own worldview and ideology. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of others, to walk in them, to see what their lives are actually like. When I do that, I am open to what God wants me to do, which is often reduced to very basic actions: feed, clothe, listen, love.

    I deeply appreciate this blog post. I think it, fully understood, would lead to far fewer confrontations here on BTA…and in the world at large.

    But what do I know? It’s just my opinion. Nothing more.

    @Steve, it’s 45 degrees, partly cloudy, with a projected high of 61 today. The trees are so colorful it’s almost sensory overload for me. A beautiful Fall day in Michigan.


  7. goldengirl says:

    Now at 65 yrs old, which I can’t believe and doubt many times, I am very hesitant to make hard, cold statements about many things. I was in my youth very much set in my beliefs, or maybe they were judgements. But now with my old age setting in I am less sure of things. I am sure of one thing. Thank God my (our) salvation is not gotten by works but by the sacrifice that Jesus made for me (us). This I am sure of even on my very best days of good works, good thoughts, etc. etc. I am a sinner, a saved sinner, but still a sinner. This I am sure of and never waiver. I am sure there is a Hell. I am sure there is a Heaven. I am sure there is a Satan and his angels. I am sure there is God, the Father and Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I never waiver. I think that is a lot now. Age has made me less judgemental and more apt to say “God knows and He will take care of it.”

    Anyway I would like to say how much I love RBC. It is and has been a mainstay in my life. Thank you so much.

  8. jeremy says:

    I have known 3 “senior” pastors/Bible teachers in particular who met/are meeting your criteria of elderly, nearing “going home”. The first, my mentor Pastor Herman, went Home to be with the Lord at age 83. The night before he died, he was trying to lead his hospital roommate to the Lord. His faith never lost focus of Home. The second, a 90 year old Bible teacher, Harold from Maine, I spoke with last summer. His church values his insights so much they asked him to be their interim pastor while they were without one. And the third, 87 year old Pastor Tom, soon to retire, weekly emails me to remind me to stay focused on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
    I hope these 3 are not the exception to the rule, but the ones who have set the pace for me.

  9. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… finally another type of Bucket List that goes beyond the material world!
    I like the order I found in reversing your list, as it represents my walk more closely, as a closer reality to my thoughts… my reality about being in Christ. Gary

  10. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    I agree, to a point, with you Gary:

    Certainly false,
    Possibly false,
    Probably false,
    Possibly true,
    Probably true,
    Certainly true,

    Describes our walk with God and how we come to know more of Him and the absolute truth that is Him.


    Certainly true,
    Probably true,
    Possibly true,
    Probably false,
    Possibly false,
    Certainly false,

    Describes our walk with man as we let go of ourselves and allow Jesus in, and out of, our lives.
    We are less taken in by the whims and fads and gossip of this world.

    I guess we “mellow” as we get older or maybe just become riper fruit ready for the harvest.

  11. SFDBWV says:

    I feel sad and angry about the condition children are educated in and the atmosphere in which they grow in today.

    Even though such topics as evolution, birth control and drugs were already entrenched in the society of *enlightened* people; as a child we didn’t discuss these things in the class room as a matter of confrontation nor were they ever a topic we were interested in, we were kids.

    We played games outside in the heat or cold in the grass or mud. We learned how to interact with others and sometimes learned how to fight and when.

    Children today are asked to make decisions that adults find difficult to handle themselves.

    The person I am at 65 is very different, yet the same as when I was an idealistic hungry 17 year old overly anxious to be out and on my own.

    Many influences molded that teen age mind, though many were not good for my wellbeing they too were a part of what made me who I am today.

    If I could go back and correct my mistakes would I? No I wouldn’t even though it may make me feel better about some things, everything would be different from where I am now, and who I have become.

    Every tragedy, every heartbreak, every joy filled moment and every lesson learned through living them is who I am and why I believe as I do.

    Has my beliefs mellowed over time? No they have become better understood. Have I doubts about my faith beliefs now as I enter in to the senior age of life? No I have a more mature understanding, there are no doubts only anticipation as I ache to reach the goals of my faith.

    The one great difference about then and now is this; when I started out in life, I wanted to experience it, experiencing it taught me that it is filled with disappointment and pain and that the only true joy comes in giving to others and making their pain less.

    In truth I am tired of the fight, but the fight has become more intense and I will not ask as did Elijah to be removed from the battle, rather I will ask for supernatural strength to carry on until my usefulness for God is completed and my joy made whole.


  12. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems to me you describe the maturation of faith in a believer. Young faith, whether in a younger or an older person, has raw edges. I recall seeing the light of the gospel as being a ruby laser that cut through everything. Looking outward, a young believer seeks to apply the cleansing of the Word to everything. (Just a tendency, not a hard and fast rule) The effect can be cutting.

    Walking with Jesus for some time, allowing the Holy Spirit to have his/her way in our hearts, minds and lives – brings transformation. We turn from the adolescence of justice to the adulthood of mercy. I have observed in myself and in others, more pauses in my proclamation – more listening to others – and to the stirrings of God. Perhaps it is in some ways as though the throne-room of our hearts is small and cramped when we first embrace God’s love in Christ. Over time, the space and scope of our being is transformed by abundant grace. Later, or after some expansion, there is more room for God and all his qualities. I feel that I have become more generous with the grace I’ve been given. This is not to say I don’t have ungenerous and narrow thoughts and actions. I do.

    In my experience, the flame of zeal and commitment to the Lord is more like a blow-torch on safety, rather than a laser when some degree of maturity is given to us over time. The kingdom is at hand, and when the Spirit moves believers are inclined to shine more brightly. We are, perhaps, more fully in the hands of the Master Craftsman. May he always determine how the fire of our love is applied!


  13. dja says:

    Good Morning,

    Happy Birthday to you,Cherielyn. May the Lord be with you this day and always. Please know that I am praying for you.

    I am always amazed how the Lord answers my prayers and brings me encouragement. I shouldn’t be amazed because of Who He is, but I am. I have been feeling a bit low lately and upset about how our young pastor and wife can be so abrasive when presenting their beliefs (and in some instances opinions). Last night I cried out to the Lord, not even knowing what to pray but feeling so upset inside. And then this morning, reading Mart’s post and all of your posts, the Lord has brought encouragement to my heart.

    In addition, when my husband and I were having morning devotions together, we talked about this, and we both agreed that we are different from when we first came to the Lord. Our faith and love is more gentle and quieter. Not that we don’t speak about the Lord-but we speak more softly and with a peace inside that knows that it’s the Lord Who will work in hearts. We need to pray, speak when it’s right and wait on Him. I like what Maru wrote, “In my experience, the flame of zeal and commitment to the Lord is more like a blow-torch on safety, rather than a laser when some degree of maturity is given to us over time”.

    Like Steve, I wouldn’t change the things that have happened over the last 66 years. The mistakes and sins, and the pains have been what the Lord has used to season me. I guess lately I have just been feeling tired and have gotten frustrated with those who use the ruby laser that Maru spoke of.

    Thank you all for your writings. You have, indeed, been used by the Lord to encourage my heart. Philemon:7

    Although it’s in the 40’s today, it is cold, and grey in NEPA. Had to start up the coal furnace yesterday since it was 33.


  14. poohpity says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday cherielyn!! Pray you are to never old to learn or to enjoy with abandonment those things that keep us young.

    Mart the statement that resonates with my heart is “Which means that the number of things we are sure about can become less…even as our perspective and certainty about what is important grows, and deepens…”.

    There are people who are young as well as older that think they know everything and are not willing to learn. There are those who are brittle when they are young then they become brittle when they are old. Some find mystery and wonders in life when they are young and still find life that way when they are old. There are those who are open to experience new adventures when they are young and still open when they are old. There are those who do not want to go beyond their front door step when they were young so when they are old remain the same. Some who challenge themselves to be more than they were yesterday and some who are content to remain the same.

    The older I get the more simple life seems. Things I thought were so important at one time are no longer that important now. The things I find important now were the things that were important then but I just did not realize it and thought they would be there forever but they are gone. What I hold so tightly to now are the things I can take with me into eternity and will continue to emote change in me today and no one can take those things away.

    People are the same as they always have been just more gadgets that can either infringe on what is really important while making life easier but ultimately take away from interpersonal relationships. We used to go have coffee with a friend now we go with our computers and talk and talk and really say nothing but endless circles of philosophies that are meaningless except to get our attention off what is really important, a growing and deepening relationship with our God.

  15. oneg2dblu says:

    cherielyn… being human we all make mistakes, typos and the like.
    So, wishing we could edit our mistakes is a natural response, but recognizing them, maybe not!
    Your method of asking for forgiveness is what I choose as well, for we both find our outbursts are not premeditated, but spontaneous in nature.
    Our system of belief however, alters our response to our sin, and those who practice this already forgiven attitude where asking for forgiveness, or any repentance for sinning, never comes to fruition or comes to mind, think differently about sin.
    I believe that wherever we are placed in life, our sphere of influence is monitored, and we are daily tested to find where our chosen response is.
    When I encounter such times, I like you ask for forgiveness like you, but I also recognize this as a testing, and I additionally ask for God’s Helper, His Holy Spirit, to help me with better choices next time.

    Have I conquered all outbursts”? Only future testing will reveal such.

    If victory over a future form of temptation, changes my response for the better, all the glory goes to God, for it is not of my flesh, but from His Spirit that I have changed.
    That is victory over sin applied through faith, that God hears my plea, answers my prayers for victory, and now in Christ, I am free to choose a better response.
    Then, comes another testing… but this time, my faith has been strengthened through application.
    I’m not perfected yet, far from it, but I’m making progress because I stay connected with the source of all victory over sin daily, asking for his forgiveness, “pretty daily.”
    Although, I know it is his Holy Spirit that convicts me, I never leave that fresh encounter with Christ, feeling anything but forgiven. Haleluliah!
    Happy Birthday! Gary

  16. billystan864 says:

    Mart, I would have to say from my own experience with not coming to salvation until later in life that I am lucky when it comes to doubting. Most of my early years were loaded with a total lack of conviction. I did not believe or agree with anything but getting drunk. Now at fifty eight I have had the joy of knowing Jesus as my savior for seven years and have been sober for twenty four years. Since I put the drink down, and more importantly since becoming a Christian my life has has done a 180. I talk for myself only when I say this, but for me Knowing Jesus Christ need no explanation, it just is. PRAISE GOD!!!

  17. williamt123 says:

    The ederly have been a hugh part of our lives. We manage senior housing,long time. They need the reinforcment of our faith and obedience to Jesus to strengthen and finish their course. There is a lot of hopelessness today. The word of God is a powerful punch to straiten up anyone. Look at the disciples at their faith at times. Yep,that is us, too. Turn off the t.v. and seek His face. Blessings.

  18. fadingman says:

    As I’ve gotten older, there have been some slight shifts in beliefs on peripheral doctrines. But I’ve had more significant shifts in how I view/treat others who don’t believe as I do. It’s not that I necessarily think they might be right, but it’s a matter of showing more patience and grace. I want to treat those I think are wrong with grace, because I would want them to treat me with grace when I’m wrong.

  19. d1hawk says:

    You stated:

    “But the changes of perspective that I have seen in older people, including myself, leave me with the thought that the years don’t just multiply our days. The decades can also divide our ways.”

    I have personally found this to be true.

    Perhaps it’s that seniors need to hang onto what is familiar and we are reluctant to change long held viewpoints?

    Since the Bible is God’s living word for each person’s needs at any given time; there in perhaps lies the source of our devisiveness or misunderstandings resulting from our maturity in our walk with God and our individual understanding of His Word.

    Been Thinking About This: What about you?

  20. SFDBWV says:

    1 Corinthians 13: 11 “When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    Not everyone was raised up in a Christian home or environment, for them becoming a Christian may have come only after they were already a *senior*.

    My mother in law is 93 years old and will be 94 this February; she did not become saved until she was nearly 80 years old.

    Whereas I grew up under the guidance of a Christian mother, but not a Christian father. He wasn’t against being Christian; he had just grown up himself void of any Christian love demonstrated in his life.

    Today when I read the news either in the paper or on the internet I am greatly amused at what the 25 year olds today think is *new*. As if by their discovery of some knowledge thousands of years old they are the first to discover it.

    All of us remember how with great enthusiasm we first encountered God, learning as if for the first time all about the stories of the Bible and of Jesus. Oh how we were so excited and wanted to tell everyone all about it.

    No matter the age a person is, that excitement if lost is just a sad as a marriage that has lost its excitement and became *routine*.

    I feel bad for a Pastor or any man to say, not only has his eyesight dimmed, but so has the luster of his faith.

    When I was about 30 and attending a Methodist church, my Preacher in his 60’s made the most astounding comment one night at a Bible study meeting as to cause me to not only lose my respect for him, but ultimately to leave this assembly. So bad and so absurd was his thoughts that I will not repeat them here.

    Had time mellowed his beliefs or had he warped his view of scripture so as to make sense in his limited ability to understand?

    The *truth* will always be the *truth* no matter at what age we encounter it.


  21. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    I believe you bring up a trend that is as old as humanity — and is still a major factor in the reputation and the work of the people of God, Steve. You wrote:

    “Had time mellowed his beliefs or had he warped his view of scripture so as to make sense in his limited ability to understand?

    The *truth’* will always be the *truth* no matter at what age we encounter it.”

    Large segments of the mainline Christian church have mixed in civil liberty with freedom from moral restraint. I notice how leaders embrace the more and more worldly view that sin should be “baptized” and called individuality. This happened when Moses went up on Sinai for forty days. Is it just too demanding and too uncomfortable to keep God’s covenant? It seems to me there are three dangers:
    1) We simply stop practicing our faith.
    2) We transfer our faith to something other than our Triune God.
    3) We decide, at whatever stage of life, that we simply want to do what we want to do.

    I believe the phenomenon is too complex for me to understand fully, but abandoning the regular disciplines of seeking the Lord by Scripture study, prayer, corporate and private worship and service will “pull the wool over our eyes.” Any follower of Jesus, of any age or length of faith-walk, will fall if (s)he does not keep faith with God. Is it not merciful and enlightened to live out among those around us — family, friends and neighbors — the everlasting way? (Psalm 139:24)

    The bottom line is the character of God. Even a hardened heart like Balaam’s had to admit the truth:
    “God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. He has promised, and he will he not do it?” (Numbers 23:19) Humanity does not “evolve” out of a profound and deeply implanted need to be a child of God. That is who we are, children of God. (Jeremiah 50:4, 5)


  22. remarutho says:

    Perhaps I should add that the prophet Jeremiah was bringing a word to the people about Babylon and Chaldea. His advice was, “Flee from Babylon…I am going to (destroy) her.” (my paraphrase of Isaiah 50:1-16) There will be a day of reckoning for obedient and disobedient alike. This word speaks of history and of God’s justice without regard to the times. In crisis and cataclysm is when we see sheep sorted out from goats. Yours, Maru

  23. remarutho says:

    I am referencing Jeremiah, not Isaiah! Sorry, slip of the keyboard. Maru

  24. remarutho says:

    Jeremiah 50:1-16 — bear with me, friends,

  25. poohpity says:

    To me there is no such thing as “set in your ways” when one is in Christ. He does not leave us that way when we step out of the boat (the familiar) or when we recognize He is the source of all that we thought we were during on our own. For faith to become matured it has to grow but for most it is the opposite it becomes stagnant.

    I agree Steve it can be like any marriage. When no one does anything different than the way they are used to doing things it can become mundane. Trying new things and really listening to your partner rather than taking everything for granted can bring new excitement and opportunities for change.

    For those who make it a habit of reading God’s Word know that over time you see new and different things because it is alive and when we are open to learning more the Words pop out and one gets a fuller meaning. One can learn to hear more and more the voice of God and see His hand in more areas of your life. Why depend on God when one feels they can do it all on their own.

  26. poohpity says:

    “doing” not “during” lol.

  27. poohpity says:

    I think this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:13 over time.

  28. remarutho says:

    I agree, Pooh. Also, in Matthew 7:21, 22, 23 — Jesus still on the mountainside teaching the crowds. How shall the people of God please God without steady-on obedience to his commandments? Blessings, Maru

  29. SFDBWV says:

    Maru once again you have put so eloquently exactly what is in error in today’s mainstream church and why many believe we to be in the church age of Laodicea; the last church age before Christ’s return.

    It is a time when we must all take stock and reaffirm our faith in word and deed.


  30. poohpity says:

    Maru, it helps if they really know and understand those commandments and understand that the ability to follow comes from God and not our own strength or fortitude. Desire not determination or duty.

  31. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… you are so right, even when we read the whole bible, and many times, if we read it with preconceived doctrine of thinking ruling our eyes, we can not see what it actually SAYS, we only see what we believe it says for us. It is not proof of the truth, unless we can see the truth, and that truth seeing eyes are from the Holy Spirit within us, reading it to us in His Voice, and not our own.
    Repetition of reading alone is not going to redefine our false thinking, only God and His Spirit within us can redefine His Word to be seen for what it actually says.
    As Maru has stated and I certainly agree: “How shall the people of God please God without steady-on obedience to His commandments?”

    I would say, if we could read with His Eyes, not our doctrinally closed conceptions that would be a good starting place.
    No matter what!
    No matter what age we are, what position we hold, what words we encounter, you need to be obedient to the actual Word of God.

  32. poohpity says:

    That was possibly wrong it may be from allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us and not desire at all.

  33. poohpity says:

    But Gary I would say not many even attempt to read it at all but talk as if they do. Does that mean they have told a lie when they say they are obedient to Gods’ Word not having read it?

  34. poohpity says:

    Romans 12:2 NLT

  35. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… how forgiving you are to say my post was possibly wrong, as you are stepping into the second bucket from the bottom of the list with your reply.

    You are still searching for something here, I do not know what you are trying to prove with presenting possibly wrong questions.
    I only know that, “I read into it,” a part of your character that is concerning for me.

    I believe, “Follow me,” are the only two words required to fully understand how to please God.

    As they bring one “required” thing with them,Obedience!

    You can’t hear what you don’t unsderstand, and you can’t follow what you can’t see, so in that sense of the word, you do make a point and confirm mine.

    But telling others, like me, they do not know what they say because they have not read what you have, the entire bible many times, is demeaning and leaves no room for further discussion here.

    According to scriptures, or the scripture I have read so far, Followers of Christ are “not required” to read the whole bible, (you may want to read that many times) but I get your pointed remark with an astounding amount of wisdom, and that is because according to your standard, because I did read them all.

    However, I do not “desire” to read them again.

  36. oneg2dblu says:

    Sorry that my humanity flows forth at times when provoked, so I’m still human. Still gullible, still learning, still asking for forgiveness, pretty daily.
    I trust you get my point! Gary

  37. poohpity says:

    I was saying my statement @9:07am was possibly wrong not yours. Your post just happened in there before my 9:12am comment. My own personal bible reading is nothing to brag about because it is exactly that, my personal time to learn about my Lord and I know that I have yet to scratch the surface of all that the Bible contains. I read the Bible because I witnessed how it effected the life of my mom so I wanted what she had and plus it was a desire the Lord laid on my own heart. What you do or do not do is not my business, you do not answer to me. I just get amazed how people can give a book report without reading the book. ;-) No skin off my teeth. I just asked a simple question.

  38. davids says:

    So many great comments. I feel a bit sheepish here, not having yet reached my 50th birthday. But I have had the chance to observe my elders and still have children to lead through their teens.

    I do not believe that you can draw an ascending or descending line regarding age and beliefs. People experience joys, defeats, and new experiences: a divorce, a death, a bad pastor, a gay child, an unexpected success, or a spiritual awakening.

    Some people discover faith and broaden their ideas, while others become more dogmatic and rigid. Unfortunately, I think we have to admit that our cultural background and life experiences shape our beliefs.

  39. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,

    Off topic here…
    I hope all is well in your lives. I love the picture that you chose for this blog topic, Mart. It draws me in and makes me wish I could take a long walk down that road.

    Now back on topic, I can definitely understand why an elderly person would have doubts about what’s actually going to happen in hell. But from my perspective as a Believer (in Jesus Christ), I know that it’s a place reserved for satan, demons and people who reject God. I don’t want anyone to have to go there, but God gave everyone a free will and some people have chosen to follow satan. I’m not curious about what hell is going to be like because the most horrible part about that place is the seperation from God.
    *Hell = Seperation from God & no relationship with God*
    I’m willing to trust God’s Word and believe that I will spend eternity with Him.

    Love to all…

    Cloudy and cool today in Texas (low 70’s).

  40. Loomis says:

    Last night I wrote a responce that I was surprise wasn’t posted. In essence, I was tinking of two ways we may respond to our beliefs as we age. Paul, Peter, John in their writing’s shared what was important in regard to faith. I think of John as he wrote almost singular in purpose to the core of what we believe as important. Peter wrote of suffering which I think we know more about as we age. They are still eager to share the Word of God.
    Other people respond I believe in discouragement and maybe worn out. Do we change because of aging itself? More people experince depression as they age. Later years for some may not be their best moments. I think it is important to be kind and gentle as we encourage one another.
    Do we listen more to the voices of unbelief or do we focus on the Word and the Lord? Do we have changes in our brain? As we age do we focus on what is important or do we perseverate over detail. As I think on these things it sure can be complicated. Lord give us grace

  41. narrowpathseeker says:

    Someone once told me when I was very young that the hardest thing I would ever do in the future would be to live with the past. I wish I would have taken that very seriously. I think maybe as we grow older we have more past to live with. Another cliche, that we learn something new everyday even if it is to learn that which we learned yesterday was wrong and seems to coincide with why I am less sure of many more things as I grow older.

  42. SFDBWV says:

    I remembered reading before the death of John Wayne he joined the Catholic Church, and before the death of Sammy Davis Jr. he had became both a Jew and a Christian; it seemed that in nearing death these two well known men were trying to make sure of their eternal futures without really having any true convictions, just wanting to play it safe.

    I see a great difference in people who have been students of scripture for many years and as they age their beliefs becoming more mature and those in the same circumstance simply changing their view over time.

    It would seem to me that someone who changed their view over time didn’t have a solid stance of their understanding of the matter to begin with.

    An example of this may be this personal story I will share; I once had to confront a very senior mine manager over a violation of safety laws he had ordered men to violate, in the ensuing conversation he informed me that he had been doing things this way for over 20 years, whereby I simply said to him “yes but you have been doing it wrong for 20 years.”

    In Matthew 11: 7 and in Luke 7: 24 we read of Christ asking if those who had went to see the prophet John the Baptist expected to see a reed shaken by the wind. And answered no they were looking for a Prophet a man of God speaking for God. Not someone changing their tune to whichever way the wind blew.

    If a person, especially an out spoken person such as an author or preacher suddenly found in the old age that they had been singing a song all of their lives that they now had doubts about, that would be a sad testimony to their life; that they had spent all of their life defending something they never truly believed only thought that they did at the time (whether true or not) they find there at the end they never really had faith only an imitation of it.


  43. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Mart, you wrote concerning your conversation with an older servant of God:

    “But one thing I remember so clearly… is seeing in his eyes the hesitance with which he admitted to me that he was beginning to have doubts about what he had always believed about the nature and torments of hell. I remember at the time thinking that age was making him soft.”

    I can recall feelings when I was much younger (back when the earth was cooling) that my elders seemed to lack courage, or perhaps I was realizing and admitting that I disagreed with someone older than myself – and had the boldness to admit it. Scripture has not changed its witness of the Hebrew Sheol (Numbers 16:30) – nor the Greek “lake of fire and sulfur” (Revelation 20:10). Yet, as Steve pointed out, when age has brought each of us inevitably closer to the end of our days we can and do hope for something better than what we judge to be our likely outcome.

    I look back upon my many decades of life so far in different ways: all the places I’ve lived – all the folks I’ve known, some passed away, some much changed from their former appearance and behavior, some out of touch completely. I do regret some things I’ve said and done. It seems to me all I can do is what anyone must do about sin and the conscience it brings: confess, repent (however late), and be reconciled with the person I’ve hurt if possible.

    Once heard a preacher offer his three-word formula for pastoral counseling: Admit it – Quit it – Forget it. Though it seems shallow, that is essentially what the Lord has commanded. Jesus taught us to repent because the kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 4:17). The washing and the transformation Jesus offers us is as powerful and complete as it ever was or ever will be. Recognizing and dealing with our habitual sinning is the most difficult, I believe.


  44. Mart De Haan says:

    Steve, that’s an interesting story about the senior mine manager.

    Guess the problem could have been that he knew better, but assumed it wasn’t necessary to comply. Or maybe he didn’t know what he didn’t know.

    Interestingly, John, when arrested sent messengers to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah that John had been saying he was. Sometimes unexpected circumstances cause us to wonder if we have been right.

    Other times simply listening to and asking questions of those who disagree with us shows us what we didn’t know.

    Sometimes we continue to affirm what the Bible says about i.e. the days of creation, marital roles, hell, or the future, etc. while more slowly concluding that there is a difference between what the biblical texts are certainly or possibly meaning or implying.

  45. Mart De Haan says:

    I remember some of the same kind of conversations over the years. In some cases the changes don’t show up in what I now say, but what I try not to say with the misleading appearance of certainty.

  46. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    If you begin to have doubts, it’s because you are not serving God whole heartedly. Your focus is on self first and possibly others. This is and has always been satans playground. His word is still as active as He is today. Seek Him and he will show you. What, you’ve been doing this all your life? Not deep enough.
    While I have your attention, there’s been something strange happening in our home that we’ve been able to deal with by faith and prayer for years. I don’t want to admit/believe and have just passed it off. It just got kicked up a notch two nights ago and last night as well. If I told you, you’d say, “Sure, lady,” (As I would if some told me.) I can promise you in the pressence of God, it’s happening. I need prayer warriors.

  47. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    John the Baptist was only asking to make sure his mission was done, because if Jesus was not Messiah then John would still have work to do and would be released from prison.
    Just like Paul trusted in every word God said about his mission to the gentiles and that he would be protected and not come to harm, but Paul also knew when his time was up and greater glory would be served by his death.

  48. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    No reflections upon your demeanor whatsoever, Mart. Making an effort to use the 1st person plural or singular — rather than the 2nd person here. Certainty and direct address can be harsh. Not my purpose.

    Today, I am winding up a leadership conference in the mountains that has been particularly trying: Church leaders in a life-style I cannot approve, go along with, and certainly cannot “baptize.” Lord, teach me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ!

    We cannot claim perfection if we hope to win these children of God who are in habitual sin. Should I call it something else? I ask for your prayers today.

    Will send an update on my friend Chris’ needs when she meets again with her employer. Thanks for your prayers for her.


  49. poohpity says:

    Certainly true
    Probably true
    Possibly true
    Probably false
    Possibly false
    Certainly false
    God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah about having a child in their old age they laughed and took matters into their own hands. Gen 17:17; Gen 18:12

    God told Moses to return to Israel to lead the people out. Exodus 3:10-15

    When the Israelites faced difficulties in the wilderness. Exodus 16:1-3

    When God told Gideon he would be a judge and lead the people. Judges 6:14-23

    When God told Zacharias he would be a father in his old age. Luke 1:18

    Thomas when Jesus was raised from the dead. John 20:24-25

  50. poohpity says:

    Where I live now, over the past year and a half, I am surrounded by folks that fit into this topic. The majority of those I consider friends are between the ages of 65-93. Talk about set in their ways on a whole they are confident that it is as they think not as it is or can be. They are satisfied with things as they are but they complain and grumble but when it comes to changing anything they are afraid. The only thing that never changes is the fact that things change. They can remain the same or they can do something different but on a whole they do the same things day in and day out and when someone new moves in they either fall into rut too or they get gossiped about.

    Our faith grows overtime if we make a choice to trust and depend on God more than we do ourselves.

    Steve that was a very good story about the man doing things the same even though there was room for change but continued to do things his way no matter if they were not what others considered right. There are many people like that and they get offended when someone that may have expertise in the area poses an alternative approach. Sometimes God will pull the rug out from under us to get us to think about things in a different light and promote change but even then they may go back to the old way of doing things.

  51. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… the word Overtime for me in the past places I have worked, usually meant I got paid more for doing more.
    But, Over Time, I realize that God placed me in those jobs, provided everything I ever needed, even that additional income, though I did not know it then, but over time, it has been revealed to me, God provided!

    So it is with the Word of God, so it is with Obedience.

    At first, we only know that which we work harder and longer to obey, just like working overtime. But, over time, we realize it is God working through us that gave everything, even our victory.

    I constantly come to realize in my life whenever I take a stand for something, I stand against something else.

    But, is it really “I” taking that stance, like in pride filled or seeking attention, or is it God in me, providing the strength and power to stand up against something?

    However I perceive my stand, with the understanding I now have, I know God has provided it, if it aligns with His Word, and that never changes.

    I just wish His Word were easy for us to understand, and stand up for, but the entire world, even the deceived among us, stands against it.

    So, when churched people of today, people who claim to know His Word use His Name, stand up against like- thinking others on what his word says, how do we know which ones now standing in His Name, the Lord will then say, “Away from me you evil doers?”

    It must be by Faith, for without faith no one can please God!
    Or is it by hearing, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God?
    Or is it by being called by God, because none comes to him unless they are called first?
    Or is it a relationship with Christ, who is the Only Way, to access God?
    Or is it Obedience, to the calling, the hearing, and the following of Christ that seals our Eternity?

    We all see in God’s Word, how complex and how simple it is at the same time, and could it be that over time when we are tested, approved, sealed, we become victorious!

    Or is it in the blink of an eye, an instant in time of faith, hearing, andobedience? Or is it in perseverance, testing, holding on, running the race, keeping the faith?

    Is it each to his own to choose, to will, to desire, passions, work, attitude, obedience, and all according to his own understanding of that calling, hearing, and resulting faith?

    Who among us, the churched of today, has the clear and perfect understanding of God’s Word, through our studying, our churches, and our own different leanings, teachings, doctrines, principles, orthodoxy, traditions, service, life experiences, world view?

    Being that we are all coupled with our sin nature, and also His Spirit, will we take a stand against evil, or do we choose to remain in the silence of the lambs, making no waves, doing no harm, offending no one, and all claiming to use the Name of the Lord correctly, even through our seeing today, is seeing dimly?

    I would say for me, it is the power and strength of God in me that makes me want to take that stand, fully knowing opposition is waiting, baited, ready to label, demean, deny, devour, but, God Provides! I believe in, 1 Corinthians 10:13, even if when we are tempted to make a stand. Praise God! Gary

  52. poohpity says:

    God seems to never leave us as He found us and continues that work in us until we go home to be with Him. If there is no change or growth that may be something that needs some thought. Are there any differences in our Christ-likeness than there were last year or are things pretty much the same? If there is growth and change in how we behave then Christ is right on target but if there is no change then Christ may not be in the center of our lives.

  53. Mart De Haan says:

    Bob, I’ve never heard that explanation before. It’s a good illustration of how listening to someone else’s take doesn’t mean that either is rejecting what the text says, but rather that there may be more options to consider than we’ve thought about before. Thanks for giving us an example to talk about!

  54. poohpity says:

    For the longest time I looked at the verse in Matthew 5:48 as a striving to be as much like Christ as possible but then it occurred to me that that type of behavior was done in my strength much like the Pharisees held to much outwardly appearances and so many rules that heir hearts were far from God. They shunned sinners. It could be possible that in the context of the verses before it that as Christ loved His enemies and did good to those who hated Him and still went to the Cross for sinners who do not even realize they are sinning. Loving those who love you means really nothing everyone does that. I have grown to think that is how we are to be perfect like our Father in Heaven by loving our enemies, being kind and nice to those who we may deem as enemies, showing grace and mercy to those undeserving is how our God acts.

  55. bubbles says:

    Please forgive for this being off in left field. I am not trying to change the subject.

    What was the difference between a prophet and a seer in the Old Testament? Was there a difference? Were these titles used on in the same?

    I was reading about Asa this morning, and two chapters over, it spoke of a seer, and two chapters back it spoke of a prophet.

    If anyone knows, can you help?

    Sorry for throwing something odd in the mix. But this has been on my mind this morning.

  56. bubbles says:

    one and the same. . . not on in the same.
    Bad typo.

  57. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I guessed John the Baptist’s question would come up and so have given the matter much thought.

    Let me begin by saying that John was Jesus’ cousin and certainly knew the special circumstances of his own birth, and the story of Jesus’ as well. Luke 1: 41-55 records the conversation between John and Jesus’ mothers; so I have to believe John already was aware of the special person of Jesus.

    Again we read in Matthew 3: 13, 14, 15 we read of the conversation between John and Jesus at the baptism of Jesus. Clearly John knew who Jesus was.

    Then we get an amazing declaration from Jesus in Matthew 11: 9, 10 where Jesus clearly states it was *He* who sent John before Him to prepare the way and in Matthew 11: 14, 15 makes clear that John is actually Elijah.

    So did he (John) know who Jesus was for sure, I think certainly so.

    Our topic is about people changing their views over time concerning matters of scriptural belief.

    John as I understand scripture never got to hear any of Jesus’ sermons nor did he ever get to see any of Jesus’ miracles, as he (John) was imprisoned shortly after the baptism of Jesus and it would seem John lived only a few months after the event.

    So John never got the opportunity to live out decades of life filled with the knowledge of the witness of Jesus’ life death and resurrection followed by the Day of Pentecost or the experiences and examples given us in the Gospels, the Books of the NT or the Revelation knowledge given to the Apostle John.

    No, John doesn’t fit our model by comparison; why he ask to ask Jesus if He was the one or should we look for another is not because he doubted Jesus, no, he would not be asking the question of Jesus unless he believed Jesus to know the answer; he simply wanted to know what was next for him (John) and he ask the very person of God who had sent him to this mission.


  58. SFDBWV says:

    For all my friends out here who like this sort of thing; yesterday as I filled out my weather report for the National Weather Service I laughed as I wrote October 11, 2012 (10/11/12) then recorded our monthly precipitation amount as being 1.23.
    So on 10/ 11/ 12 we had 1.23 inches of precipitation for the month.
    It got a smile out of me and I hope some of you.


  59. cherielyn says:


    I was puzzled when you wrote: “Then we get an amazing declaration from Jesus in Matthew 11: 9, 10 where Jesus clearly states it was *He* who sent John before Him to prepare the way and in Matthew 11: 14, 15 makes clear that John is actually Elijah.”

    Something just didn’t seem right to me, so I researched it and found what I thought I remembered, in John 1:19-34(KJV). In particular, John 1:21(KJV) and John 1:25(KJV). John himself says that he is NOT Elijah.

    In response to your other comment, while I do not make out weather reports for the NWS as you do, I am involved with Skywarn, as a ham radio operator, during severe weather.

    A wintery 27 degrees in NE WI at 7:29 a.m.

  60. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve and cherielyn…. you give credence to my last post about the complexity and simplicity of the word,
    making it difficult perplexing and hard to understand when scriptural verses seem to oppose each other.
    In such cases where do we then take our thinking?
    How do we concretely settle these differences?
    Steve is convinced and shows supporting verse and cherielyn follow up with verse that does not confirm but leaves us with questions…
    Is our eternity based on this settling? Certainly Not!
    Do we sin if we believe the wrong version? Probably Not!
    Has God intentionally given us things that we alone can not settle by just reading His words with our comprehension? Probably, Possibly, Certainly!
    He is God and we are still learning about Him! Gary

  61. SFDBWV says:

    Cherielyn you have ask a very good question and one that has puzzled many theologians as they attempt to explain what seems to be *tensions*, as Mart calls them, in Scripture.

    Let me begin with what does your own heart tell you concerning John?

    What was it that Jesus is recorded as saying of John? (Matthew 11: 14)

    Lets look at the OT prophesy concerning this matter; Malachi 4: 5, 6 says that God will send Elijah the Prophet before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord”. Joel 2: 31 has a lot to say about the “great and terrible day of the Lord.” Read also Joel 2: 28, 29, 30 concerning *that* day.

    Now looking at the conversation between the Priests and Levites and John the Baptist in John 1: 21; the priests are asking whether John is the Prophet that accompanies the prophesy of the coming of the “great and terrible day of the Lord”. He is but he also isn’t.

    He explains clearly for them that he is the *voice* preparing the way of the Lord (John 1: 23) (Isaiah 40: 3).

    However *that* time hadn’t yet come to where the 2nd coming of Jesus will be ushered in by the tribulation explained in Joel 2: 28, 29, 30, 31.

    At this point in Johns mission he is only the *voice* in another point in John/Elijah’s mission he will be used in a different capacity (Revelation 11: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

    I believe Jesus understood clearly our reason for feeling somewhat confused which is why He said in Matthew 11: 15 “He that has ears to hear let him hear” Also in Luke 1: 17 the angel aided in the explanation of who and what Johns mission was.

    I hesitate to not add my conjecture in at this point, as I have plenty of thoughts; maybe as the tread go along.

    I hope I have helped some and not just given more questions than answers. As always these answers of mine are my thoughts and I do not press my thoughts upon another.


  62. poohpity says:

    I wish I could say that there are not times when I needed reassurance of my faith but I can not. Jesus seemed to work with those who admitted that at times their faith was weak, just as He did with many others in the bible when they doubted or their faith was weak. John needed reassurance and Jesus provided just as He does when any of us need it, all one has to do is ask. Jesus can work those who are honest. How really weak is our faith if we go to the source and ask for the fires to be fanned from smoldering embers into a fire?

  63. poohpity says:

    Could it be possible that John took on the role of Elijah the prophet by pointing out sin and turning people to God just as Elijah did? Malachi 4:5 NLT

  64. poohpity says:

    That may have been the reason Jesus said those who have ears to hear.

  65. poohpity says:

    That was wrong John nor Elijah pointed out sin they said to turn from sinning to God there is a big difference.

  66. Mart De Haan says:

    Steve, you make a good case for John the B not doubting because of what he knew and had declared earlier.

    That’s definitely a possibility. The only reason I would not claim certainty either way is that I’m trying increasingly not to idealize anyone except Jesus. And since our Lord himself voluntarily gave up the independent exercise of the glory he had in the presence of his Father in heaven, we don’t even know how much knowledge the Holy Spirit is giving him as Jesus’ human drama unfolds. But that’s apart from the point of whether his forerunner ended up doubting in jail.

    Seems to me that because the text does not specifically describe John’s motives or state of mind in prison, and because John (like Elijah) is had the same weaknesses as we do (James 5:17)we are left to deal with possibilities rather than necessary conclusions.

    In that light, The Expositors’ Bible Commentary also does some speculating with possibilities when it writes on this issue:

    Luke 7:18-20 Excerpt from EBC “The healings and presumably also the raising of the widow’s son apparently have not sufficed to convince John of Jesus’ messiahship. This reluctance seems strange, considering John’s role in announcing the Coming One and in baptizing Jesus. There are several reasons why John needed further confirmation. He was in prison (3:20). This could lead to depression and, in turn, doubt. Further, he might wonder why, if the Messiah was to release prisoners (Isa 61:1) and if Jesus was the object of that prediction (Lk 4:18), he had not freed John. Also, though he had received reports of Jesus’ ministry, John himself had apparently not witnessed spectacular messianic miracles such as he might have expected; nor had he heard Jesus claim outright that he was the Messiah. John still had “disciples” (vv.18, 20), but this need not mean he had been continuing a separate movement because of uncertainty about the Messiah

    Barker, K. L. (1994). Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition: New Testament) (236). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

  67. poohpity says:

    bubbles, this is just my thought but in the cases during Asa’s time I think that seer and prophet may have had the same meaning and purpose. Samuel was also considered a seer, 1 Samuel 9:19 NIV. I think there are differences in the translations.

    Also just wanted to let you know, AmazedbyHis grace, that I am praying along with you in your current circumstance.

  68. Mart De Haan says:

    poohpity, I think you are making good suggestions about the relationship between John the B and Elijah. While the OT makes it sound like Elijah himself is going to return for a role in the end times, the question is whether it will be really him, or someone like John who spoke in the same spirit and power of Elijah.

  69. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, thank you for the opportunity to further this discussion. I will try and impart a few more thoughts this afternoon, but normally my afternoons aren’t mine and when I try and post it usually is so interrupted that, as it is said, *my horse becomes a camel*.

    I have tried up to this point not to say anything concerning John “B” that isn’t said clearly in Scripture. I certainly am not trying to idealize John as all I have said concerning him is what either Jesus said or what was said of him by scripture reference.

    Matthew 11: 11 quotes Jesus’ take on the man John “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist”. That is quite a statement from our Lord, however it continues to say “: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

    That last statement should let the wind out of any sail that thinks John is any more special than any other as a citizen of the Kingdom.

    I give freely to anyone their right to present their own conjectures concerning these matters of seeing the same things differently, and expect others to do the same for me. I think anyone’s conjecture is as good an educated guess as anyone else.

    With all due respect to K.L. Baker I do not think John the Baptist doubted the Messiah’s credentials, but was looking for some added confidence in what he believed, and just like now, the Holy Spirit gives us confidence and reassurance when we need it, Jesus gave John that same reassurance he needed.

    I think that is a very human condition.

    I would also agree with you Mart that we have no Scripture reference as to how much *information* John had concerning anything other than his mission to be a voice in the wilderness and prepare the way for the coming Messiah.


  70. poohpity says:

    Could we do a better job of conveying what we say is just our own take on things by saying things like, it seems to me, what I understand, this is just my conclusion rather than speaking as if everything we say is certainly true with no possibility of error. I think over time that is one of those lessons that helps us to be open to continued learning. In almost every profession the employees have to get CEU’s because there is evidence that we need to gain new insights. Insight into what is contained in the Bible just as our faith is developed over time, as is with any relationship. The longer your know someone the more details about them comes to light. So being brittle will cause us to break when the unexplainable occurs and it often times seems to happen more than not.

  71. bubbles says:

    Thank you, Deb.

  72. d1hawk says:

    Narrow pathway…Your perspective is very insightful and summs up my life experience as well.

    “Someone once told me when I was very young that the hardest thing I would ever do in the future would be to live with the past. I wish I would have taken that very seriously. I think maybe as we grow older we have more past to live with. Another cliche, that we learn something new everyday even if it is to learn that which we learned yesterday was wrong and seems to coincide with why I am less sure of many more things as I grow older.”


  73. Bill says:

    @pooh, to what did you refer when you wrote this:

    “Could we do a better job of conveying what we say is just our own take on things by saying things like, it seems to me, what I understand, this is just my conclusion rather than speaking as if everything we say is certainly true with no possibility of error” ?

    I scanned back over everyone’s posts, looking to see some that didn’t adhere to your request and I couldn’t find any. Most people used words like, “I think” or “As I understand scripture” or “I believe.”

    Even if such phrases were not specifically used, couldn’t we assume that everyone posting here is posting an opinion? I know what I post is opinion. One-hundred percent opinion. Any time we post more than scripture itself, we’re posting opinions — if not our own then those of authors we cite. Even when we do post scripture, as others have noted, sometimes our interpretations of it may not always agree.

    I think it’s understood that every time we post to BTA we’re sharing an opinion — even if we say “this is a fact” because even saying “this is a fact” is an opinion. (Facts can be very fluid these days.)

    Is there something that caused you to request we use specific words when we post? If not, I suggest we just let people post as they wish without saddling them with rules about how to phrase their posts.

  74. bubbles says:

    Since John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins, and since Elisabeth KNEW Jesus was who He was, and since John the Baptist leapt inside his mother before he was born when Mary came to visit when she was carrying Jesus, could a safe conclusion be that John would grow up knowing information about Jesus and who He was? But then he did ask Jesus if He was the One. . . How much did he know exactly. . . his parents were learned people.

  75. Regina says:

    Good Evening All,

    Steve, I liked your “10/11/12” and “1.23” :)

    Love to all…

  76. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Thanks pooh, I wasn’t one to ever believe in ghosts. That is until I saw one. Then I realized that the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost and Jesus didn’t tell them there’s no such things. I don’t know why God is allowing this, but I will be glad when it’s over! There’s been small creepy things (not ghosts..shadows white/dark) happening for years, but I pray the name of Jesus and they are gone. Rhen I saw a ghost, twice. 2nd time the dog growled at it. That ruffled my feathers a bit. I call for extra prayer now because it’s kicked up a notch. Things are happening when I’m not able to call out to Jesus. I was having a dream the other night of people chattering. My daughter came home late that night and she woke me up scared. She said she was unlocking the door and she heard people talking. She thought the TV was on. It wasn’t. The house was silent. Next night, the dog kept staring at the couch. I was busy working, felt an oddness, but gladly passed it off as paranoia. The dog loves the couch and is allowed on iy, but he wouldn’t get on. He walked the length, kept staing intently but wouldn’t get up on command. I went and sat on it because the Lord dominates, but it still took the dog some coaxing. The was highly unusual behavior for him. Instances of something suddenly moving hair, arm, fingers happen too. Not a clue why. We’ve been in the house approx 14 years but just started with shadows about 10 years ago. We’ve also had an extreme amount of mishaps. Last year, along with so many trials, hardships, medical, my husband nearly died 7 times. He just died in my arms this year. We rejoice He’s with the Lord and out of pain. I was involved in church (wrote Spirit led childrens bible lessons)and have been active for approx 30 yrs. Currently searching for new church, but am still dedicated strongly in the Lord. Again, not a clue what to do about these occurences.

  77. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    It’s a good thing I have an editor in my writings! Please pardon the mistakes!

  78. royalpalm says:

    Hello, Mart and BTA friends,

    Great topic and great thoughts…God created us for Himself and He sent Jesus to rescue us from sin including the sin of doubt. Relationship with God is based on our faith in Him. As Habakkuk said, and Paul later wrote, “The righteous man shall live by his faith.” Hab. 2:4. Rom. 1:17 It is our faith in God who declares “That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD. Jer. 9:24. It is this faith that sustains and strengthens our soul even as our bodies age with time.

    It is natural to question our faith in people, events, circumstances and ourselves but I believe that when we begin to question God’s revealed Word e.g.” Is there really hell? “, we question His Holy nature and character. Like Daniel and his friends, we have to decide in our hearts whether we have complete faith and trust in God or not. Our lives are shaped by this choice.

  79. SFDBWV says:

    If you look hard enough you find many people and a few cults that zero in on one verse of scripture and make an entire doctrine of it. I am not like that; I take the whole of scripture and apply it to what I believe.

    Did Moses mellow in his old age concerning the things God had told him? Did Joshua? How about David did he change his mind over time or did he learn that what God says stays?

    Solomon softened his beliefs even after writing the books of wisdom and look what it led to.

    In fact there is quite a long list of kings who perverted what God said in order to align them with their particular life styles.

    I brought up the quote from Jesus (Matthew 11: 7 Luke 7: 24) as a way of showing that Jesus used the example of Johns steadfast preaching as a way of staying focused and not flip flopping on beliefs.

    It isn’t what I thought or imagined it is what Jesus said and I will stick to that.
    My thoughts concerning John are straight from scripture and I will stick to that.

    Continuing along the topic of changing ones views of facts in scripture just because they have had 20, 30, 40, 50 or more years of learning scripture still means to me that they never based their beliefs on the scripture, but rather where they were at the time, and what was true at the beginning is going to remain true at the end; and I will stick to that.

    The full Scripture is thousands of years old, it has not changed, though some would rewrite it to change its meanings and align them with modern thinking and pervert it and lead the world astray.

    Do people, as they get older, look at things differently? Most certainly they do. But the Word of God is ageless and does not change. It is a constant in a world of continuous change.


  80. SFDBWV says:

    AmazedbyHis grace, I was raised up in a house that many felt was haunted and as a child I heard ghost stories handed down from grand and even great grand parents.

    I have experienced many unexplained events and will stay steady in my belief that dogs and horses can see into the spirit world.

    Whereas I also remain steadfast in my belief that our spirits upon death of the body go either to a place of torment or paradise, I also can not discount that there are spirit beings that we can not see.

    Jesus was most proficient in exorcizing them out of people and these *spirits* had to have been about before finding a host as well as after being removed from them.

    The thing for you to remember is that these spirit beings have no power over you and you have no need to fear them. They can not be in the presence of Christ and must obey Him. You have the power of Christ in you so take charge of the matter and order them out.

    If it helps you, take some anointing oil and place a touch over your door posts walk around you house and ask Gods blessing upon you house and house hold and all you hold dear.

    Stay steadfast in you faith and the fear you now feel will turn to victory.

    Don’t worry about what others think, stay close to Jesus he will not leave you nor abandon you.


  81. vsfg06 says:

    Oct 13, 9:18am

    Very good run of considerations over two days or so.

    Thank you, one and all. To Mart’s original posting and questions/hypotheses I suggest that there are physiological and biological factors command to man that are givens, but really outside of the spiritual considerations that we have been addressing in this string.

    I also suggest that ones outlook as they age may change depending upon the levels of resposibilities outside of oneself are layered on. With some responsibilities come decision making requirements which may slew all of the non-spiritual aspects of our older lives.

    Considering the spiritual aspects, I heard more pastors and Bible teachers assert that we get in trouble when we doubt our beliefs and believe our doubts. I have found that is a lucrative pathway for Satan to inflitrate our lives. One person in this string has already noted that Satan is the deceiver and author of lies. Amen.

    So maybe, Mart, we are misdirecting some of our answers. Perhaps the problem is how-the style, spirit, techniques–we use in “believing our beliefs and doubting our doubts,” interacting with others, that cause discussion.

    And as smart and as learned as we may become we all need to remember that some things belong solely to God so far as knowledge goes.

  82. poohpity says:

    Bill, that is a lesson I have learned over time that I did not know before and speaking toward the topic of certainly, possibly and probably. Not directed at anyone but a lesson that may be beneficial for all when we talk about things that are above our limited knowledge like God’s thoughts, reasons and even interpretation of scripture.

    royal, I know for myself it is not questioning God’s Word but overtime God reveals more of it. It seems we are not open to learning somethings at a specific time but at other times we are more receptive to the lesson. You know like those ah–hah moments. Each time I read through scripture there seems to be things there I did not see or understand before then over time they stand out and I seem to get the point better.

  83. poohpity says:

    To me the best teachers are those who still understand they are students and are open to learning. Pliable not brittle all the while standing on the firm foundation.

  84. Bill says:

    Absolutely, pooh. I agree 100%.

    I’ve found that as I get older, I find myself becoming more pliable all the time.

  85. poohpity says:

    Just do not become a pretzel!! lol!!

  86. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Mart wrote – “Which means that the number of things we are sure about can become less… even as our perspective and certainty about what is important grows, and deepens…”

    That made Matt 9:17 come to my mind. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

    What did Jesus mean when he said that? When I read the passage, Matt 9:14-17 I see that Jesus wasn’t speaking to the Pharisees or teachers of the law, he was speaking to the disciples of John the Baptist who wanted to know why Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting. But the same passage in Mark:18-22 states it was “some people” who asked Him. While Luke 5:33-38 says it was the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who asked Him.

  87. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Mark 2:18-22

  88. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    That’s the beauty of scripture.
    It is the perfect word of God yet it is not word perfect.
    The gospels are eye witness accounts or transcribed stories told by others, apart from John’s gospel which is a spiritual interpretation of events.
    The fact that there are differences in some of the stories reflects the fact that we all see and interpret things slightly differently.
    In a court of law, if all the witnesses said exactly the same words then no one would believe them and they would be accused of a conspiracy to lie.
    God’s word is truth and expresses that truth in human frailty and weakness but always gives the answer to our needs.


  89. poohpity says:

    Was the importance in who asked the question or the significance of the question? Three different people with three different perspectives. It may be that Matthew was there, Luke seemed to gain his info from careful research and I think Mark was a young observer from a distance. It could be when comparing after the fact the writings of each is where the harmonies are found in the same events although one had not read the writings of the others. Just a thought.

  90. poohpity says:

    oops Bob said the same things as you but it had not posted until I submitted mine. ;-)

  91. remarutho says:

    Good Evening Mart & Friends,

    In the best sense, the “sorting” that older saints do over time amounts to refining and growth in the good. I believe Eugene Peterson calls it “long obedience in the same direction.”

    Mart, you wrote:

    “Which means that the number of things we are sure about can become less…even as our perspective and certainty about what is important grows, and deepens…Would be interested to know whether you’ve seen something similar, and what kind of questions, concerns, and reassurances it has raised…”

    This past summer, we in the community here celebrated a member’s 90th birthday. It was a wonderful time of sharing and feasting and joy. This woman, Lee, was born in 1922. She does have health issues – and most of the people she has loved are gone. Yet, she remains full of hope and anticipation for the future. She is a great encourager. Lee has seen a lot of history – and has come through much “sorting” without bitterness. By contrast, I have known some elderly folks who are holding on to old hurts and disappointments. Some expect the worst, and have become guarded and suspicious.

    In the decades of my life that may remain, I pray to be like Lee. She always has time for someone like me. She shares a cup of coffee and a snack – or veggies and flowers from her garden. She tells her stories to those who take time for her.

    It seems to me it’s important to give Lee time to share what she has to offer. This perspective is not very popular in our day. Lee may have one more decade of life given to her, more or less – we can choose to honor her or not – we won’t have much more time to make up our minds.


  92. foreverblessed says:

    Have been thinking a while what to answer, I was raised in a church which was pretty sure of their doctrines, saved by grace, but yet keeping almost all the commandments of the Mosaic laws. So yes, there have been many things which have changed, but I still know that the meaning of saved by Grace could have a much more important part in my life. It is by Grace that I stand, Grace, every morning realising it is His Grace which set me on the Rock, which is Christ. The Grace God has for me, for the shortcomings, the faith which growing so slowly, when I would realise how much patience God has with me, with everlasting love He waits, and longs to give more of His love, peace, mercy. Yes the more that would sink in the more grace I could show to others around me.
    (I am not talking about condoning sin saying sinning is OK, because we are save anyway, no no, we are glad we have been saved from sin, how do we want to go back to it?)
    I did a search on -grace- on biblegateway in the new testament, and reading all these verses that show up is awesome. The growth of the church that is mentioned is based on this grace. How awkward many of our churches are now, sour faces for people who do not live according to the laws, that is not how the first church was, these people were full of joy that they were saved by Grace, and they showed it. So yes, this is a part which could me much more important in my life.

  93. Mart De Haan says:

    Maru and foreverblessed, those are such a good place to change the page. Thank you! Am going to try and add a few more thoughts in the next post.

  94. cherielyn says:

    AmazedbyHis grace,

    I know, first hand, what you mean about thinking people won’t believe you about things that are happening.

    My son had a problem with similar experiences several years ago. They got worse as items started getting thrown across the room, an LP record he didn’t even own showed up on his record player and started playing in the middle of the night, when he was sleeping. He tried to lift the arm off of the record & couldn’t budge it. He tried turning the record player off and it wouldn’t shut off. Most shocking of all was when he pulled the electric cord from the wall socket……. and the record player continued to play! It was not the type that has batteries that will run it if the power is disconnected.

    I consulted with fellow Christians who had experience in helping with situations like this. Following is the advice I was given to rebuke Satan.

    DO NOT DO THIS BY YOURSELF! You should have at least 2-3 other Christians praying this, out loud, in agreement with you.

    You will need to tweak the wording to apply specifically to your situation, in the areas that are in parentheses.

    Rebuking Satan

    Pray the following, out loud:

    As a child of God, by the grace of God, in Jesus name and by the power of Jesus blood, which He shed for me – I rebuke you, Satan, and your demons.

    (_________) has accepted Christ’s salvation and is a child of God.

    I command that you:

    Relinguish any and all control you have over (______), physically, mentally and emotionally and depart from (him/her/it).

    Relinguish any and all control you have over any object in this (apartment, house, building) and depart from it.

    You may not enter into any other human being, animal or object in this building.

    Leave this (apartment, house, building). Leave the (City, Village, Town) of (__________) and the County of (_________).

    You may not return, ever!

    In Jesus name and through the power of His blood which He shed for me, I pray. Amen

    Open door(s) for their exit.

    Please note that it is VERY IMPORTANT to pray through the power of Jesus blood. Satan HATES hearing of the blood. Without it, you may not have protection and worse things may follow.

    We had to do this twice because, in error, we did not cover everything. After praying the second time, using the above words, a week later, my son was never again plagued with the things that had gone on for several months. He was absolutely terrified while those things were occurring. We came to the conclusion that they were brought in by a friend of his who came to visit.

    I stepped out to share this out of extreme concern for your situation. I pray that no one thinks that I am off the wall in sharing this. I am only sharing my experience. Had I not seen similar experiences, as a child in my parent’s home, I would never have considered something like this. All I can say is that it worked for us.

    I hope I have helped.

  95. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Thanks. Yes, it took me awhile before I told someone and I still hesitate. What bothers me is that it’s happening in my dreams, too. I had never really believed in ghosts, but I saw the same one twice. Then I realized Jesus didn’t rebuke his disciples when they thought he was a ghost. The 2nd time this ghost appeared by dog growled at it. That ruffled my feathers a bit! That night I dreamed about the ghost and he wanted to know what hapened to him, I saw that there was a fire in his house and told him. After that I wasn’t bothered again. However, other things have happened. I really don’t want any of this, I don’t watch scary movies and pray the Lord’s holy angels reside here. Please pray that my teen turns back to the Lord whole heartedly. She just moved back home and she’s caught in the dominion or darkness. The Lord knows who she is. Also, since she’s been home, injuries increased. Thanks for your prayer support!

  96. cherielyn says:

    AmazedbyHis grace,

    Since, as you stated about your daughter, “she’s caught in the dominion of darkness” it becomes apparent, to me, that the increase in recent events is due to whatever demonic spirits came home with your daughter. If she is a deep sleeper, you may be able to pray the prayer that I sent in my last post, over her while she is asleep, with a light laying of hands on her, while praying. If she continues to dabble in whatever dark things have brought this on, however, this will continue as she is inviting them in.

    I will continue to uphold you in prayer for victory over the whole situation.

  97. oneg2dblu says:

    At the leaves fall seems to be at an end and a new topic is on the way, but venturing off topic is always going to happen, and it is natural if heartfelt conversation is allowed to have its moment.
    The greatest cure for any nation, or people, or person, in my opinion comes through repentance. It is the one godly act that God always allows us to control completely by ourselves, every thing else is either given to us, or already written for us, and we are still granted our free will act of repentance as long as it is today.
    Repentance is work, very hard work for some, easy for others, but it is never done by another for us. Repentance must be done by us.
    Thank God Sunday is coming, but on this Friday where must bear our failures, repentance is still available to us all. In my humble opinion, Gary

  98. oneg2dblu says:

    Oops! where “we” must bear our failures…

  99. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Thanks. I realize this went off topic and I’m grateful for any prayer support. I’ve had a very, very difficult walk with more things happen than most if a lifetime. Though highly involved with churches along the way, there’s been little or no support, not even email support through tragedies galore. I believe God blessed me with “alone” time with Him all the more. I believe he has used RBC as a tool for us who choose to try staying/focusing on the narrow path.

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