Sunday, February 26, 2017

Healing, Miracles, Spiritual Gifts and the Restored Gospel - An Interview with a Convert

I am in the process of writing a book that the Spirit has prompted me to write. It's a book about removing strongholds of darkness from your life, and repelling efforts of the adversary. Truly, I believe it is going to be very helpful.

While writing this book, I have studied and pulled from many experiences throughout the entire Christian world (across all denominations and faiths) and thought it would be very enlightening to gain perspectives especially from members of various Christian faiths who have since converted to Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). 

The following interview is an incredibly genuine and raw perspective from a Mormon convert who used to belong to several Christian denominations/faiths. I have found that spiritual warfare is a big portion of teaching in many Christian faiths, and is on the rise. Many churches are teaching their members to cast out evil in all appearances and to not tolerate darkness in any form. They are teaching how to protect families and how to strengthen gifts of the spirit as to be more effective in spiritual warfare. 

Many of the miracles I have studied are verified and genuine. There is great faith in the body of Christ as a whole, and many are being healed and brought to the knowledge of their Savior Jesus Christ and learning how to use the Atonement in their every day lives. 

I was so grateful and fortunate to have received such a detailed response to my interview questions. This interviewee (who I will keep anonymous) shares such a beautiful perspective in comparison of the churches he came from, and the church he is now a happy member of today (the LDS church). 

I have been a member of the LDS church my entire life, and therefore I enjoy hearing what it's like for someone outside of the Church to experience it for the first time. Though we have many similarities with various Christian churches and theology, there are some stark differences; and shedding light on them in this interview was very refreshing. 

As a life-long member of this church there are many things that even I take for granted. This interviewee brought up some beautiful and fascinating points that I think you'll enjoy - as well as his spirited sense of humor! 

1) Before joining the LDS church, what church did you belong to? What beliefs, practices, and theology differed most from the LDS church?

We moved around a lot. We started off Baptist, when I was born, then moved to Pentecostal, then charismatic, then everyone became “non-denominational”, then I was with the free Methodists for a while, then moved to Florida and started going to a Baptist church again, then a Baptist church plant, which was kinda more non-denominational in truth, then I stopped going, then LDS.
Baptists are probably the most similar in style, very subdued, most use hymns for their music, Really, aside from their belief that cannon is closed and prophecy is no more, Baptist and Mormons could almost be siblings.

Pentecostals/Charismatics would probably be the most different. While they believe still in the gifts of the spirit (tongues, prophecy, etc.) they surely don’t do ANY of it with any kind of order. They would sing a song (sometimes a hymn, sometimes a regular “worship” song, like those you can hear on Christian radio stations) and then speak in tongues (unknown tongues) for a matter of minutes or more. They would raise their hands in praise while singing, they clap for special music and depending on what type of church, sometimes you had people get up and do anything from yell “Amen” while the preacher was preaching, to straight up wildly dancing and yelling in the isles. Quite honestly, I am pretty sure some of the more insane stuff was actually demonic… but I honestly kinda blame the “tamer” things done without understanding, for providing the gateway. Example: Even when Paul was talking about speaking in tongues, and even where he says that it’s not all known languages, he says “but if anyone DOES do this in your meetings, only 2 or 3 at the most, and ONLY with an interpreter, lest someone from the outside come in, see this, and think your nuts.” Basically. No one listens to such things in most Pentecostal/charismatic churches… they just go all out.

Also, you will have prayer times where people would come to the front, and get hands laid on them for healing, and blessings and stuff. I have seen, and been party to some miraculous healings of this kind, while not being in the church, but I have seen a LOOOOOOT more showmanship than authenticity here. After I left those kinds of circles, or right about that time, there were things going on like “being slain in the spirit” where the preacher touches you and “the power of God” comes and basically short circuits your system to the point where you fall over and just lay there for a while. I’ve had it done a few times… I can attribute it to 1 of 2 things generally. 1: either the one who falls, falls on purpose… indeed when being “taught” how to do it… (Really? Taught? Jeez…) they tell you just let everything go, and fall back when you feel it. Or something like that… well of course you’re going to fall after a minute or two of the preacher pushing you backwards even slightly. So… 1: it’s all just… a show.  2: it is possible (especially with these kinds of crowds) to get so emotionally worked up, and of course so open to influence, that the amount of energy flowing (just from the atmosphere, and the people) might be enough to short circuit their own energy system making it seem they’ve been touched or need to fall or what not… We did something akin to this in the martial arts I practiced for a while. Very energy based… nothing to do with God.

2)Before you converted to the LDS church, how active of a church goer were you? Describe how your relationship with God was and your dedication to the Lord.

Over my life I have had on again off again periods. There would be times when I would go to church every Sunday, Saturday, Wednesday, any time the door was open, and sometimes in between. Then there were other times when I would miss church for months, or only show up once a month or so. Right before I joined the LDS church was one of those off times, I probably hadn’t been to church for real, (i.e. with any kind of regularity) for a year or more. At that time in my life I was kinda mad at God, and although I would still view myself as his servant, Kinda always do… he was surely not my best friend at that moment, but that was DEFINITELY my own doing… I was being really rather stupid at that point in my life on a few issues.

3) Were there difficulties or struggles when learning about the church? If so, please explain.

I was married at the time, my (now ex) wife was not that into it. She didn’t see the need for anything but the Bible. This of course caused some tension, and when I decided to join the church, that was kinda the last (surely not the biggest) straw that made her leave. But mostly, when learning about the church, everything was easy… it was the years that followed my conversion that things were difficult. But I will explain that all in my conversion story.

4) How did you overcome those struggles?

Like I said before, even when God was not my best friend, I still considered myself a servant, and a follower of him… I simply believed that this was absolutely where God wanted me at the moment, and I went. I didn’t, and haven’t let outside discouragement avert me. (granted, I do now, have some issues of my own… but still, not enough to actually avert me from the faith.) Long story short, I believe this is where God wants me, so this is where I am.

5) Did you witness miracles, healings, and wonders in your church? If so, how often and can you share details?

Yes, it’s kinda hard to say how often, because as I am sure you picked up by now, I am somewhat a skeptic, and I really try to shy away from calling things miracles when there are other possible explanations. I believe giving the mundane miraculous status really detracts from the AWESOMENESS that God really is.
THAT said… I have seen things I would indeed count as miraculous. (Though, admittedly, we can’t honestly rule out placebo effect, but for sake of argument, and what I myself consider legit… I have seen things.)

Please know, before I talk of these things, that I REALLY don’t talk of them much… so much in those cultures are showy and flashy and “look at me, look at me” that I REALLY REALLY try my best to “not let my right hand know what the other hand is doing” so to speak… I don’t brag about these things to the point where I really rarely talk of them at all. It’s all very sacred to me, is the best way to put it… I just don’t want to throw it out there for everyone, because I believe that when we stop holding the sacred as sacred, it does a dis-service to God. These things I call miracles are truly God working (in my view) and not just me doing things… so to use them as a show piece REALLY goes against who I am, (though is common practice in Pentecostal circles) so… I shy away… Does this make sense? I just want to outline the way I feel about the things I am about to talk about… Just know I don’t take these moments lightly, and I am not trying to show off or be boastful.
Ok, so… one night, me and a bible study I was currently with went to a weekend music festival… think Christian Woodstock. Well, I had been reading a book called “Victory over the Darkness” by Neil T. Anderson. Was about how to break demonic strongholds and things, WHICH I DO BELIEVE God gives us the power to do. I just hate when people make a circus showpiece out of it… I don’t think that’s right. ANYWAY…. I was talking to one of my friends about the book, and what I was learning, and one of my other friends, who was very quiet spoke up from across the campsite and said “so you think you know a lot about this demon stuff huh?” and without even looking, I knew something had changed… His voice was the same… but… there was something else in it. When I looked, of course his face was physically the same… but again… there was something else there.
LONG story short… I ended up… after a long night, casting the spirits out of him. That I would consider miraculous.

Another time, I had a friend who’s knee was getting worse and worse over the course of a few weeks, till one night, he showed up for church on crutches, and said that as of that morning, he could not walk without them. This man was a friend of mine, and also one who was not just a showy person, so I have every reason to believe him.

After church we went outside, me and a couple other friends circled him, and we prayed for him, that God would heal his knee. When we were done praying, I told him to do something he couldn’t do before, and he handed me his crutches and walked without them. Never needed them again. I consider that miraculous.

6) Would you describe your religious upbringing as conservative?

Yes, quite. Even in my family’s Pentecostal phase (one most have grown out of… kinda… my dad is now (he wasn’t then) really big into it…) we were all really conservative. As far as the word goes…

7) Did you participate in speaking in tongues, prophecy, and additional spiritual gifts? Please explain.

This goes again, with what I was saying before…  I don’t just speak of these things lightly… most today don’t even know… but… yes, I can speak in tongues. A few people have told me to “prove it” and I won’t, because the Bible is clear… speaking with unknown tongues is the spirit praying, and not to be “shown off” so Regardless of their lack of belief, I don’t just demonstrate this thing, but yes, I can.

Allow me a moment to explain why I believe I can. I am NOTORIOUSLY bad at improvisation. To the point where if I wanted to just make up something on the fly… a language, a melody, anything I literally feel like I hit a wall, and just can’t do it. I’ve been this way for most of my life. VERY VERY VERY Few times in my life… it seems I have, through God, or some other means I don’t know always, been able to reach beyond that wall and receive something. Truly, reaching beyond the wall is wrong, it’s almost like something from the other side reached through and gave me something… that’s better.
One such time is, on the third or fourth attempt at people praying for me to receive the gift of tongues, I felt a swell of energy, and it started coming out. It’s funny, I don’t even really think about this much myself… I rarely if ever use it anymore… and hearing about people speaking in tongues REALLY puts a bad taste in my mouth because of how extremely over-and incorrectly-used it is… but, I cannot deny this in my own life, and though I rarely use it… when I do… I do feel a kind of power in my spirit. For all I can say, and all I know about it specifically from Scripture, this ability/gift/technique/whatever lines up with what should be according to Paul.

Prophecy is a difficult one. There are so many ways to interpret that. I DO have a STRONG (again I do not say this to brag, or boast) ability to discern things, to the point where I can sometimes tell what is going to happen in the future if paths are not diverted from.

I believe though, the gift of prophecy is more than just a future teller, it is that of someone who hears from God, and warns the people. Or cries out the word of God to the people… Honestly, there are a lot of different ways you could take the word “prophecy” or “prophet” but… I have, at various times in my life moved in these areas, most if not all of them. I have had people call me a prophet, which is a big deal, because I FIRMLY believe, that just calling yourself something doesn’t make any difference, but if someone else recognizes you as something, it pulls a lot more weight. There is a line from a book series that I love, but cannot recommend, where one of the characters says “Any man who must say “I am the king” is no true king.” I love that line, and live by it most of the time… so… I hope that helps with the prophecy thing.

Additional spiritual gifts: Like I said, I have, usually, really good discernment. Well I should say always… I just don’t always listen to it well… if you consider healing a gift, I have done that a few times. Going by the list in Romans, I would say (humbly) serving (when possible) leadership, exhortation, mercy. Going by Corinthians, healings, miracles, discernment, tongues. Again, most of these I haven’t thought of in AGES… I really try not to flaunt them… but, when I NEED them… (and we could write a whole paper on the word NEED as opposed to WANT) they have always been there. Except for the tongues… that came on kinda suddenly. Also… from an LDS perspective on the gift of tongues, I have ALWAYS been very good with worldly languages. It’s kinda a hobby of mine, but… always, since I was a child, very good and very quick picking them up and speaking… so… for whatever that’s worth.

8) If you made a comparison between members of your previous church and members of the LDS church what would you say the biggest differences are in culture, spiritual gifts, faith, miracles etc. Are there any at all? Please explain.

The BIGGEST difference (and there are many smaller ones) would be what brought me to this church in the first place, and that would be “the fruit”. I don’t know how I missed it all those years, perhaps I didn’t, and I just didn’t know of an alternative, because LDS is a “cult”, and I don’t do cults (ugh… such stupidity…) but the Fruit is the biggest thing. Every church I went to was cool when you’re a new member, but, after a while, the façade always wore away, and the body was just… cancerous. In fact, one of the best sermons I ever preached was “Leafy Vegetables Cause Cancer”.  Based off the story where Jesus curses the fig tree, it was about how people who talk the talk, but never walk the walk, who just come to church on Sunday to tick off their checklist and go home and live however they want, cause “cancer” in the bride of Christ (the church). The more churches I went to, eventually, the more cancer I found. It was horrible, because the TRUE church, was supposed to be without spot or wrinkle…a glorious bride. I believed it existed (almost gave up hope…) but everywhere I went, this is all I could see. Then I came to the LDS church… I found the fruit of the spirit… Love, Joy, Peace, etc (this is huge for me… again… see my conversion story, this was a BIG part of it…). Now sure… there are indeed rough patches in our history, heck, there are some rough patches in our now… I have heard HORROR stories of bishops and stake presidents using their positions… shall we say… unrightfully… so… even here I sadly see some cancer cells… but… buying large, it seems to be a lower percent in this church than in others… and the love and the fruits of the spirit, when visible, are far less rotten inside.

That would be the biggest difference I would say. (NOTE: This is not to say that EVERYONE in every other church had rotten fruit… there are good people all over the place… but… so far I’ve found the highest concentration of good fruit here in the LDS church, compared to other Christians churches.)

9) If worshiping in tongues, prophesying and healings were a common practice at church and in Sunday services, did you find it difficult to leave that behind when converting to the LDS church?

Nope… they all do it wrong… to be honest I left that crowd long before I joined the LDS church… seeing the gross misapplication of such things was nauseating for me. And of course, the spirit behind it was nauseating as well, since when I would bring up the unbiblical nature of such things, I was told pretty much excuses and anything to be able to do whatever they want, regardless of what scripture says… so… I knew that wasn’t for me.  This is a good question to kinda wrap up my whole thoughts on the matter… Do I believe these gifts exist? Yes. Do I have such gifts? Yes. but I surely don’t miss the culture… the culture behind it all is more devastatingly wrong than Mormon culture (as opposed to Mormon doctrine…) Talmud and Torah… I’ll stick with Torah. You know?

10) Did you notice a difference in reverence or level of Spirit that you felt during LDS church services compared to your previous church?

Reverence is a bit of a hard word to pin down… after serving in primary, we kinda equate reverence to “quiet” but… I digress. No… I would have to say, if anything, other churches seem to have more reverence (or, that I noticed) on things like sacrament, and church time and stuff… I look around now, at church, sometimes, EVEN DURING SACRAMENT… and see people playing on their cell phones, there’s always baby’s crying or laughing, or gaming, or whatever… you don’t get that kind of thing in a Baptist church… I would say Baptists might be more reverent than LDS…

THAT Said… again, going back to my conversion story, one of the biggest differences I FELT… was peace. The first time I checked out the LDS church with a couple of my friends, I will never forget leaving the building and feeling peace. This was the first time I had left a church… ANY church… in the past, oh… 2-3 years(?) that I felt peace, and not depression. THAT was a big deal to me.
Perhaps my first paragraph wasn’t fair… I know a LOT of LDS people who REALLY are reverent during the meetings… but… just like everything… the negative is kinda, always more noticeable?

11) Some say that conservative religions such as the LDS church are “boring” and seek churches where there is loud worship and praise, dancing and live bands performing. What are your thoughts about this?

SUCH a great question. And this ties into my thoughts a lot about church’s in general, actually spawned from a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DIRECTION… so… it’s fun to see how this question fits too (personally fun… maybe not for you LOL.)

I believe that the purpose of a church, ANY church, is to clearly and loudly proclaim the dictates of their deity. They should not shy away from the hard parts, but be bold in their proclamation. A Church is to be a lighthouse, shining brightly the light of what they believe is truth. THAT’S ALL. It’s not something for people to get mad at. It’s not for people to go blow up if they disagree… the church is there to proclaim truth, and give space for likeminded people to meet and share and grow into better more holy people. (assuming we are talking about today’s idea of church, not the “ecclesia” specifically…)

IT IS THEN THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES… to come to God, pray, and seek the confirmation of the spirit, as to which church is true, or, which church God wants them in. FROM THERE… it is really the PERSON who should be moldable… NOT THE CHURCH. The church needs to be stationary and solid… it is the PERSON who is to be molded and grown. We see in our church all these protesters… who think the church should change… WHAT GOOD IS A CHURCH THAT CHANGES DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND?! You might as well just sit at home and call it church, then it will never need to change cause it’s already “perfect” in the eyes of the self… (seemingly the only one that counts to such people). No, the church is supposed to be solid… WE are the ones who are to change… THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT of church… anything else would be ridiculous…so to answer your question specifically… my thoughts are those people should just find some local rock concerts or music shows, or stay home and watch MTV… they are not going to be changed, they are going for a good time and a show… which is not what Church is supposed to be.  My thoughts are, they are missing the entire point.

12) For Christians who attend churches in which they have regular, supernatural encounters with the Holy Spirit, experience and witness miracles and healings, signs, and wonders, such as guests of the Sid Roth Show and those who attend revivals, in your opinion, what would be something that might peak their interest in the LDS church, as our meetings, leaders, and members, are much more conservative?

Well, this kinda gets into everything I said for the last question, so I think the answer is very similar… the only thing I would say more here is, The Bible… Jesus himself… warns against those who are always just looking for a sign. He warns against “tickling ears” that just want a good show to give a scratch. So, I would say, coupling the ideas I’ve presented about how wrongly practiced these things are according to scripture, and the purpose for the church in general, I would say that I personally hold very little hope that people attracted to such church shows would ever be attracted to us.
HOWEVER,… if there is someone in those crowds who is genuinely seeking the truth, who is looking for what the scripture says points out the followers of God, rather just the signs and wonders that can easily be duplicated… then I would say that the members, for the most part, are where the people would want to look to find interest in our church. The fruit of the spirit is abundant there… and indeed… if in a far more quite way, miracles DO happen in our church. I had a very hurt ankle a few weeks ago… I had my home teachers give me a blessing, by the next morning it was fine. So, all those things CAN be found in our church… of course, because those things are TRUE… we simply do not just go and make a show of them… which is far more biblical in my opinion (as you know LOL)

13) Are their aspects of faith, spiritual gifts, or culture that you feel are lacking among members of the LDS church, or the church you previously attended?

Not as such… in fact, if anything I would almost say the LDS church has a bit too much faith. I believe firmly a modicum of skepticism is good for a person, it keeps one engaged, it keeps one always making sure they are on the right road. I have heard so many people who talk against “blindly following” even the prophet… who do just that. DO NOT GET ME WRONG… I love our Prophet, I am thankful for him, but I don’t see him (as most do) as infallible. Here’s my thinking.
We have a prophet, who guides us the best he can, but he’s still human, WHICH IS WHY… we need the holy spirit to testify to the truth. Now sure… the spirit will testify to the leader’s words 99% of the time or so… but what happens when He doesn’t? At those times, very sincere people like me tend to get looked at oddly, or given cliché “well just follow the prophet and you can’t go wrong…”
BUT if we were just supposed to blindly follow “in faith” or whatever, what in the world is the point of the Holy spirit? If the prophet is always right… WE WOULDN’T NEED the spirit AT ALL for guidance… so… I think this is one thing… I guess you could put it under “spiritual gifts/Discernment” that is lacking in the LDS faith… It’s not always a BAD thing per se… but… it does kinda get annoying to someone like me… when the spirit and the prophet says 2 different things… (or when the spirit goes against some “well understood” piece of doctrine… not always… indeed rarely what the prophet actually SAYS… does this make sense?)

14) Aside from priesthood keys and authority (which sets apart the LDS church from all other churches) how do you view men, women, and children of other Christian churches who obviously do not have the priesthood but have the gift of healing, faith, prophesying, tongues, and miracles? How do you feel that LDS members generally view this practice in other churches?

Well, how I feel about it is simple… the Bible says God’s gifts are without repentance. i.e. He gives gifts to all his children… and then won’t just take em’ back. The Bible says God so loved the WORLD… in Matthew 5 it talks about loving EVERYONE and how THAT is being perfect… not just loving our friends, but our enemies… To this end… much like the priesthood, our spiritual gifts are for ministering to OTHERS (save for unknown tongues, which is very clearly laid out for self-edification).

THE BIGGEST key to ANY of these gifts… is Faith. FAITH of the person ministering, and indeed faith of the person being ministered to is what activates and brings about many of these gifts… and FAITH is inherent in ALL humanity… so let’s even move outside of other “churches” and ask the question… well… what if someone goes to a witch, or a shaman, or something like that and received a miracle? IT DOES HAPPEN… It’s because it is all about FAITH… not keys. Keys, I believe are for authority WITHIN our church… FAITH is a universal constant. See the difference?

As to how LDS people see this… I don’t know… the only times it’s ever come up it’s kinda been a non-issue, I’ve basically heard that the Holy Spirit helps all the sons and Daughters of God… not just LDS… so… I think basically, over all, my thoughts are the thoughts of most in the church… if they aren’t… I am not aware.

15)  It is not common to see men, women, and children in the LDS church healing, prophesying and declaring miracles over fellow church members. What are your thoughts about this? It is typical practice for members to call upon another member who holds the priesthood to give them a blessing, or to rely on faith and fasting in more serious circumstances. Prophesying is generally left to the leaders of the church. Do you feel that the majority of LDS members are living below their spiritual potential where faith, understanding, and spiritual gifts are concerned?

MAN these are awesome questions. Honestly, I think this church acts, in these matters EXACTLY as it should. We don’t glorify miracles, or the ones involved, we focus on Christ, and we understand that supernatural power is there if needed, but we don’t go and glorify the power. Does that make sense? Other churches glorify the POWER, the signs, the wonders… This is nothing short of idolatry. I have heard from many sources even that understand that EVERYONE, or at least EVERY PRIESTHOOD holder (more often than not EVERYONE) is a prophet, that they get direction and guidance from God to guide those they have authority over. The key here is Authority. Aside from the previous questions and the connotation of “prophet” in the LDS religion I AM a prophet… but only in my household. The difference between ME and President Monson is our area of Authority… THAT’S IT. (and he is most likely a much better man than I will EVER be… but… that aside….)

The ONLY way I can ABSOLUTELY see LDS members living under their spiritual potential is the “put your shoulder to the wheel” “carry your own burdens” mentality. This has brought us to a place where, EVEN WHEN WE SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be asking for blessings, we don’t. “we don’t want to bother”. It was honestly one of the things that shocked me SO much when I was investigating the church. An LDS friend would be sick. I would ask “did you get a blessing”? “No… I don’t want to bother anyone, I’ll be fine.”

O M G>>> WHAT DO YOU THINK BLESSINGS ARE THERE FOR?! It’s like… THE ENTIRE POINT of the priesthood being back on the church is to give blessings… but you don’t want to bother… then tell me, what is the point of the priesthood being here?! It’s insane to me.
Indeed I was talking to one of my previous bishopric, about this exact topic, and he hung his head a bit and said… you know… I’ve only known one case where we advised that a lady stop asking for a blessing,  because she was literally asking for the same thing, every day, for a couple of weeks. We had to tell her that, with faith, one or two was more than enough. And certainly not EVERY DAY… but, (he said) we do not ask for nearly enough blessings. And he agreed with me it was a sad thing.

Funny story? Now I see myself doing the same things… Yes… we live FAR below our spiritual potential, but it has NOTHING to do with HOW we practice… but everything to do with HOW OFTEN.

16) As in other churches, many members of the LDS church might be what some consider lukewarm members – meaning that they go through motions every week, and they have accepted all the saving ordinances and made temple covenants, but they have not quite experienced the “mighty change of heart” or being “born again of the spirit”. Their passion for Jesus and the gospel seems to be lacking. Is this what other Christian churches deem as “being saved”. Might a member of a born-again Christian church, view these types of members as not being saved? What are your thoughts about that with the LDS church and other churches?

Oh geez… that’s such a huge question… Honestly… VERY VERY Honestly?! I believe most people, regardless of religious label, consider “being saved” as pretty much “agreeing with everything they themselves think theologically”. I have seen SOOOOO much on this topic, ESPECIALLY once I converted… how some of my best friends at the time, who would come to my house and stay for 12 or more hours just talking theology and whatever, who knew my heart, and knew me to be a “saved” person, just turned around and called me a “traitor to God” and have not talked to me since because I joined the church instead of even asking why I would do such a thing.

I think these terms… “saved” “born again” (born again… fun fact… or rebirth… is baptiso in Greek… aka baptism… but we won’t tell right? LOL) “Mighty change of heart” is things that people use to judge others, and feel better about themselves.

I know these are terms in the Bible, but they were terms used by Christ… the most righteous judge. We are so prone to judging in the moment. See, I used to be a VERY dark person (NO, I never hurt anyone because of it… you can breathe LOL) but… I hated people… there were nights when I hated people so much I couldn’t sleep until I lulled myself to sleep by visions of torturing whoever I didn’t like at the time.

All this hatred of course, as it always does, came from being so hurt by people that I couldn’t think straight anymore. The pain caused me by society was just too much… …until a sister missionary shared some thoughts on the atonement, and the holy spirit gave me about a month of a crash course in the atonement and what it means, and now I have a heart that doesn’t hurt anymore… doesn’t want me to kill myself daily, and instead of wanting to destroy humanity, might flip someone off on occasion (and I’m still working on that bit)…

See, with a bunch of perspective… I would say I HAVE had a MIGHTY change of heart… I am NOT who I once was thank God… and indeed I am not yet who I should be. People use these things, these ideals of perfection, to show how people are not yet what they should be… and no one looks at who they once were, or what is going on in the moment. To that end, and I don’t know if this is answering your question or not really, but, I feel terms like this should be reserved for the one who first said it.  Our job is to love everyone, and help everyone on their journey… not shiv them from behind when they are not as far along the path that you (we) deem they should be for a title of “righteous”.

Case in point, I am probably considered inactive atm. I haven’t been to church in a couple months or more… Why? I have sleep apnea… I find it VERY hard to get enough rest… and 9 am church is just NOT conducive to that. Saturday and Sunday are really my only rest days… and then I have another week of VERY little sleep, and even smaller rest. So yes, I haven’t been to church in a long time, but, you know, I miss it? I genuinely miss it. (which is kinda odd) and if anyone needed anything I would surely be there. I do my home teaching, and I help out where I can. People might not see me in church and judge me, people might see me home teaching and judge me differently…
I would offer, instead of worrying about lukewarm, or change of heart, or these surface things… we worry more about the why? “Man… this guy seems to know his stuff, he seems REALLY genuinely moved when he talks of the spirit, but he never goes to church, and seems to only half-heartedly follow the teachings most times… Why?”
“Jeez, my best friend who I’ve talked theology with has joined what I consider to be a cult… why in the world would he do that? I know he’s intelligent… and I know he loves God… so what’s the deal?”
See… this moves us from judgement to love. Do you see that? And when love is introduced, we can talk, we can move, we can help… if all we do is judge based on some perfect ideal of “saved vs. unsaved” we are going to screw it up so often we might as well not even bother.

I guess re-reading your question I am answering this backwards… those are my thoughts… As to others viewing people like that…  I think it’s really hard to tell, I think there are as many definitions of “being saved” as there are people trying to define it. I think that’s human nature. I think we are called to go beyond human nature though into an eternal nature… and as such, I think we are called to stop worrying about all these terms, do our best before God, and help others do their best before God.

Does this make sense?

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