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Old 09-23-2017, 07:05 AM   #1
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Default The Sovereignty of God

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Jane and I were reasonably happy, and so were the sisters who lived with us. After a year, however, the elders began working on me to move back to the main meeting hall area. Their reason was that we had only brought in one person to the Local Church from the campus, and bringing people in was, in their minds, the only legitimate reason for living by the campus. I put them off about it and was told that we could have three more months. Jane, not wanting to leave, prayed desperately; and, soon, the Lord began adding students. Jane and I were thankful for the Lord’s blessing, which He gave us in spite of the elders’ plans for us and directions to us.
Has anyone considered that our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing might be misguided? This snippet from John's post provides an excellent example. All of the discussion displays gross problems with the so-called local church and especially its leadership, and yet we think that the adding of students to that environment is the Lord's blessing.

Do we really think that every event is somehow orchestrated by the Lord and need to attribute everything to Him? To be bluntly honest, the blessing of the Lord in this kind of case would have been to open eyes sufficiently to recognize that there is no way that He could be blessing such a corrupt place or taking actions to keep you in good standing with it. If He were in the business of intervening the way we credit Him, it would have been to make it look so entirely bankrupt that John and Jane left then, before all the nightmare of what was still to come.

Or are we stuck with the notion that the "glory" of the LRC's early days was really about teachings like the ground of the church and all the things about the "church." Or was it instead something about the people. Something that was slowly terminated as the leadership of the system, from the top to the bottom, got its hands on the people and strangled the joy from their lives?

To put it another way, are we still wearing glasses that convince us that whatever we did in what we thought was following God has to have been just that? Might we have been fooled from the very beginning? Might we simply be over-attributing to God what was merely our own analysis of things based on what we thought we wanted?

If this seems a little shotgun, it is because I don't have a clear answer to it all. But I am convinced that even in the middle of mainstream Evangelicalism there is a propensity for trying to attribute so much to the will of God. That is the reason that some preachers say stupid things like "God must have needed your 1 year-old child more than you did." Always trying to spin things are because God ordained it specifically rather than acknowledging that the world and all that is in it is corrupt and that we are fallen people, both physically and spiritually, and therefore things happen. Because of the frailty of our bodies. Because of the unrighteousness of people (including ourselves).

And just because things look good is not presumed to be because God is favoring us. We should give him thanks in all things. But it might not be from his hand. It might be from the hand of someone cloaked in the appearance of goodness and light. You always thank God. But don't presume that because it was good and you thanked God that it is actually something he overtly did for you. It might have been done by the enemy just to convince you to stay in that mess so that maybe you would be so embittered that you just left God altogether. Thankfully, for many of us he failed.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

OBW,

It seems like you may be walking through a mine field here. As to your first question:

Has anyone considered that our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing might be misguided?

Yes I've considered it. Further, I think it's safe to assume that our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing is likely shallow and shortsighted to begin with. So "misguided" is a high probability.

Sometimes what you write drifts toward "relativism" as related to the truth of the Bible. That is, the truth of the Bible depends on what we think or believe it means. I may not have said that exactly right. I only mean that my normal response would be to quote the Bible to you and I hesitate to do that because of the many sessions of hand-to-hand combat with you over what I believe to be truth and your counter response/s.

It seems that the questions you pose here are drifting toward wanting concrete answers about God's sovereignty and blessing and "are we misguided?" These answers are in the Bible as I believe, but I'm not sure that that will satisfy your perspective.

Having said that, here's my best verse for you:

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Nell

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Old 09-23-2017, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

I think I've mentioned my friend from jr. high. He met the Lord in the church in Santa Cruz. He went on from there and now he's a Pentecostal preacher.

Before meeting the Lord Ron was the center of every party. He was raised an only child by a single mother that told him he was the most wonderful child in the world. As a result he clearly had a bad case of narcissistic personality disorder.

And it never left him. Before the Lord he was the center of everything. Now, with the Lord, he's the center of what God is doing.

In short, our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing might be misguided precisely because we, our self, are the center of what God is doing. Therefore, everything happening to us has to be of the Lord.
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Old 09-23-2017, 05:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

I get the sense that the OP is born out of bewilderment that John said the Lord brought people into the LC in response to Janes prayer. Especially after it has been portrayed as a brainwashing cult.
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

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I get the sense that the OP is born out of bewilderment that John said the Lord brought people into the LC in response to Janes prayer. Especially after it has been portrayed as a brainwashing cult.
My wife and I weare recently talking about this subject. I know that God truly is sovereign. Nothing happens without His permission.

This does not, however, mean that He causes everything (e.g. toranados that kill people). There are powers of the air, principalities, etc. like the one(s) that caused the storm in the sea that Jesus rebuked. At the same time, the Lord could cause tornados. I do not completely understand this matter.

I wondered why I was born into the LC, given the fact that the Lord clearly lead me out of it. What I'm seeing is that some very positive things happened during my time there (my salvation!, my friends and my wife. Again, I love the members of the Body, I just hate the religious system).

So, although I am clear that God, in His sovereignty, allowed me to be part of a negative group, He so lovingly cared for me throughout my time in the LC, brought me into some wonderful relationships and eventually lead me out. For that I praise Him.
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Old 09-24-2017, 04:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

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I wondered why I was born into the LC, given the fact that the Lord clearly lead me out of it. What I'm seeing is that some very positive things happened during my time there (my salvation!, my friends and my wife. Again, I love the members of the Body, I just hate the religious system).

So, although I am clear that God, in His sovereignty, allowed me to be part of a negative group, He so lovingly cared for me throughout my time in the LC, brought me into some wonderful relationships and eventually lead me out. For that I praise Him.
This is an excellent attitude which I first learned from Christian counselor Gary Smalley called "Treasure Hunting" -- hunting for all the treasures in your life, even though your life passed thru sufferings, hardships, etc.
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:11 AM   #7
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My wife and I weare recently talking about this subject. I know that God truly is sovereign. Nothing happens without His permission.
Amen brother. I've said since leaving that The Spirit led me out. He/She/It (don't know) moved Mel Porter, the lead elder appointed by Lee himself, to give me an impossible ultimatum. I had no choice but to leave.

I thank the Lord for that. And I'd love to run into that elder again. I'd vigorously shake his hand, completely overwhelmed with thanking him over and over again.

I guess I could call that the sovereignty of God. I don't know. It felt like I was being led/pushed out, and I was really spiritual back then, still being full of the LC life. You know how that is. I guess I couldn't see it any other way, that God had his hand in/on it. I mean, it's been very obvious to me since I was born that I'm very important to God. I think God drops other things He's doing, just to tend to me at times. I think he knows me. So well that he's assigned more angels to me than for most others. I sure keep 'em busy.

How's that for sovereignty? I don't know the supernatural realm that well, or not at all really.
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Old 09-24-2017, 02:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

If it was a SHE leading you out then was it possibly the spirit of Bushnell.
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Old 09-24-2017, 02:46 PM   #9
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If it was a SHE leading you out then was it possibly the spirit of Bushnell.
Haha EvanG ... good one.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

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OBW,

It seems like you may be walking through a mine field here. As to your first question:

Has anyone considered that our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing might be misguided?

Yes I've considered it. Further, I think it's safe to assume that our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing is likely shallow and shortsighted to begin with. So "misguided" is a high probability.

Sometimes what you write drifts toward "relativism" as related to the truth of the Bible. That is, the truth of the Bible depends on what we think or believe it means. I may not have said that exactly right. I only mean that my normal response would be to quote the Bible to you and I hesitate to do that because of the many sessions of hand-to-hand combat with you over what I believe to be truth and your counter response/s.

It seems that the questions you pose here are drifting toward wanting concrete answers about God's sovereignty and blessing and "are we misguided?" These answers are in the Bible as I believe, but I'm not sure that that will satisfy your perspective.
I left the verse out, but just throwing out verses does not address the question. We truly must trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding. But at the same time, our understanding can only be seen as our own — or that of others. When we have an "aha" about something, it may or may not be from God. But we tend to attribute it to Him almost without question.

Your assumption that I have a relativistic view of God and scripture is evidence that you do not actually read my posts. There is nothing relativistic in having a reading that does not agree with yours. It just doesn't agree. My question is not whether God is sovereign but whether everything that we attribute to the direct hand of God is truly so. God is always sovereign. But if his present sovereignty was about ordering the details of how things play out, then the whole concept of free will is a farce and the naysayers that make God out to be creating a world full of sinners that do not have the ability to choose is probably right. But I don't believe that. Instead, I believe that he is sovereign in his withholding of his hand in intervention. He set a general punishment on the world at the fall and it continues to rule aspects of natural life to this day. In effect, the effects of the fall are sovereign and the withholding of his hand from intervention in most cases is also sovereign. That does not mean he does not intervene. But he does not always intervene. And it does not mean that he intends for the details of the outworking of the fallen world to happen, though he does mean for them to happen in general. Not the details, but the natural effects of it without specific direction or intent.

Yet in the middle of everything we give thanks to God.

My question is whether we incorrectly attribute the sequence of events in our lives, the lives of those around us, and the generally working of the details of the world in general to God's intervention or direction. Is it more correct to recognize God in his sovereignty as having created all but allowed man to choose to obey and follow, and because he chose not to, the entire system is in decay and under the influence of the evil one. Not just our souls and spirits, but the material world, including our bodies. Therefore 1-year-olds sometimes die. God does not intervene to make it so. (He does use the circumstances for our benefit, even though we cannot fathom how at the time.) And he does not intervene to make it not so.

In general.

This means that he may intervene and sometimes does. There are still miracles, but not constantly. And wo don't get miracles just because we pray for them. And neither is the loss of a loved one necessarily the result of God's specific decision to take them now rather than letting them live. It is mostly just the natural outworking of life. Health. Disease. Natural events. Man-caused events.

My question is raised because I have a personal concern that the emphasis in so much of what goes on around me in Christian circles is about finding God's hand in events. If you lose a job, it is because God intends for your to find a different one. (Reasons of economic downturn, lack of fit for the job, etc., are ignored or also attributed to God — unless it is because we were embezzling. We would not attribute that to God.) Having trouble finding a job in a certain way is evidence that God intends you to take a different tack. Or move. Or retire different tack. Or move. Or retire.


We have a knee-jerk comment for everything. "If God closes a door, he opens a window." "It is what God wants."

I do not see where the Bible actually supports this kind of thinking. I am not being relativistic to say it. I think that we read the Bible with overlays that lead us where the scripture does not. Like thinking that the Christian life is mostly about overtly preaching the gospel. And generally dismissing works because they do no save us.

I realize that Paul does attribute certain things in his life to the hand of God. Or at least to the intentional removal of the hand of God. Like when He refused to deal with Paul's thorn in the flesh. But Paul does not make general comments about God specifically intervening or directing every action. He does indicate that if we walk by the Spirit we will fulfill the righteousness of the law. But that does not indicate that the events of our lives will be ordained, rather that how we face the events of our lives will be with the righteousness of God.

And my comment about preaching the gospel, I keep seeing it brought up as being a part of so many passages that actually do no mention it. I am not saying we have no part in preaching the gospel. But so much of the Christian life is not about overtly preaching the gospel. The goal of having a job is not to be able to preach the gospel to the sinners there. Nice when it happens. But not the goal. That old statement "always preach the gospel — if necessary, use words" is too often presumed to still be mostly speaking. The life that preaches is almost not considered.

I am not saying we should not preach. I am saying that our emphasis is all messed-up. We are too engaged in religious things at the expense of the righteous life that preaches without words. In the world which we all agree is going downhill rapidly, our lives really do not match our words. Our lives should preach. Then, if necessary, words should be spoken. But only out of the background of our lives. Not out of the background of lives that do not match our speaking.

Which comes back to the sovereignty of God. Do you really believe that thinking God is not designing every specific step of your life is some relativistic view of God and the Bible? I know it is a very popular view. But when I read the Bible, I don't see it. Unless you need a decoder ring to find it and I lost mine. What I read would indicate that our lives are not specifically ordained or directed, but that how we live the life we have can be lived with God's righteousness.

For all the grief that we give awareness for expressing his shattered view of his past and of God, he may have said it better than me when he said "In short, our understanding of God's sovereignty and blessing might be misguided precisely because we, our self, are the center of what God is doing. Therefore, everything happening to us has to be of the Lord. " I, for one, am not the center of what God is doing outside of the fact that I am one of many who have chosen to be on his side. In that respect, we are all the center. But that fact does not mean a string of special intervention. If it did, then there wouldn't be death from cancer among Christians. Or stillborn babies. Unless we really believe those sorry platitudes like "God must have wanted them more than we did/do."
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:10 AM   #11
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

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So, although I am clear that God, in His sovereignty, allowed me to be part of a negative group, He so lovingly cared for me throughout my time in the LC, brought me into some wonderful relationships and eventually lead me out. For that I praise Him.
While this could be exactly what happened, have you also considered that it could just be an interpretation of your life? That maybe the fact that you were born in the LC is not a different event than being born into an LDS family, or an animistic family in Rwanda. If a man and a woman have a child, they are born into the world in which those parents live. But whether they stay in it their entire life is not predetermined.

In all of those examples, we individually begin life apart from God. At some point, our eyes begin to be opened to a truth that is beyond our natural thinking. Eventually we became aware of our lack and the fact that God, through Jesus, provides for that lack. And we accepted it. Then, for those who are in the midst of whatever life, culture, or religion they are in, God can begin to open their eyes to see Him and his ways. While there is only one ultimate way, there are many "ways" within that. It can be meeting with house churches. Or some free group or non-denominational group. Or even a denomination. And even the LC. For any of these there are plusses and minuses.

On this forum, many believe that the minuses related to the LC are serious enough to speak up about. But even if we are right, it takes the opening of eyes to the problem to take us down the path of change. The fact of problems in the LC does not make everyone there or every experience there bogus or evil. We should always treasure what we have found of God at all times in our lives.

I agree with Ohio that we should find treasures in our lives. Even in the midst of otherwise bad times. But glamorizing everything into the specific sovereignty of God is beyond finding those treasures. Beyond giving thanks to Him in the midst of all circumstances. I cannot find that this is stated in the Bible as being part of the sovereignty of God.

And some here may think that this is an unimportant thing. But what I am observing is that those who always have to attribute everything to the intentional will of God are those who eventually are shaken when something violates what they believe to be the requirements on God to be righteous, just, and loving. Accepting that, as Jimmy Carter once said, "life's not fair" while living according to the faith in Christ that we have received is much better. A Paul said it (in paraphrase) whether on top or on the bottom, whether healthy or diseased, and so on. Overcoming in hardship is not about beating the hardship, it is about remaining strong in the faith despite the hardship. The hardship may never go away.
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:30 AM   #12
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Default Re: The Sovereignty of God

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I get the sense that the OP is born out of bewilderment that John said the Lord brought people into the LC in response to Janes prayer. Especially after it has been portrayed as a brainwashing cult.
Wow. You are not as dense as you sometimes act. I think that I said it pretty clearly.

But I am not bewildered. However, I think that sometimes our need to attribute everything to the hand of God leads us to do things like state that God led people into a group so that we could be happier within that group even though we now realize the group is and was a serious problem. So we unwittingly declare that God brought people into a group to help us stay in so that we could be rescued from that group at a later date.

I am not picking on John and Jane. Our thinking in the midst of things is never as clear as it is when we look back. But it is so hard to look back and consider that we might have been reading events incorrectly? Do we have a need to glamorize it because we need to have entered the group for the right reasons? If we were talking about alcoholism, we would admit that the first drink was a problem. But in the case of the LRC, we demand that we were led in by God then led out. That He intervened to bless us so that we would eventually be abused by the leadership in a serious way for 10 years.

I think it might be more correct to either attribute the sudden rise in those brought off the campus as either just an evening of the odds, or the work of the evil one to snare yet a few more into a group that would join them to the marginalization of Christianity in the eyes of the world.

Hi. My name is Mike. (Hi, Mike) I was a member for 14-1/2 years of an exclusivist sect that made me think more highly of myself than I ought. I once saw everything in my life through the lens that they gave me. I have been sober now for 30 years and have been slowly eliminating that lens from my eyes. Like the alcoholic, I can never declare myself cured. It is only by admitting that I tend to read things the way I have been taught (whether by the LRC or even others) that I can attempt to read the scripture as it is and not as I would have it be.
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Old 09-30-2017, 02:41 AM   #13
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Amen brother. I've said since leaving that The Spirit led me out. He/She/It (don't know) moved Mel Porter, the lead elder appointed by Lee himself, to give me an impossible ultimatum. I had no choice but to leave.
Thanks for the post I really enjoyed your testimony.
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Old 09-30-2017, 02:49 AM   #14
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While this could be exactly what happened, have you also considered that it could just be an interpretation of your life? That maybe the fact that you were born in the LC is not a different event than being born into an LDS family, or an animistic family in Rwanda. If a man and a woman have a child, they are born into the world in which those parents live. But whether they stay in it their entire life is not predetermined...
"We should always treasure what we have found of God at all times in our lives." wiser words never spoken.
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Old 10-01-2017, 07:27 AM   #15
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Regarding the sovereignty of God, I have always kept in mind Ephesians 1:11..." in him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in CONFORMITY with the purpose of his will." This is just my opinion but I believe that when it says we were predestined according to the plan of him who then works out everything in conformity with his will, this indicates the total sovereignty of God in our lives. I believe as the plan comes to our mind (as revealed through the steps and moments of our lives), we have the ability to agree or disagree with what has been planned. And what if we choose not to agree? Well just as with Gog and Magog in Ezekiel, I believe hooks are put in our jaws and we are brought down to where we would not go. If we are in Christ, this is meant for blessing. Another verse that springs to mind is Psalms 139:6 in which the Lord says "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Someone far more intelligent than I once said, I believe, that in order for us to have free will, all that has to happen is for us to really believe we have it. And this is true whether we really have it or not. At least according to this philosopher.

I have come to believe that every step we take, every word we say, and every move we make is preordained and our reward is based on whether or not we apply the love of Christ to it. I think this is where our reward comes from. If we do not apply Christ to it, then there is no reward.

I do not perceive myself as a fatalist but perhaps I am! But i am a fatalist with a most happy heart knowing that my fate is with Christ. I tend to believe in a complete sovereignty of God. It is far less dangerous to Grant him more then to Grant him less. I realize no one here was trying to short God of any kind of sovereignty. But I am just throwing that out there. I have not had time to read all of the posts so if I have said something already discussed or something awry, please forgive.

Regardless, the coin has been tossed. Let the game begin! Play ball! Time out will come before we know it!
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