"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: What a Woman Thinketh in Her Heart, So Is She

Monday, October 30, 2006

What a Woman Thinketh in Her Heart, So Is She

When I was 18, just out of high school and newly liberated from a stifling homelife, I visited a comparatively liberal OALC family whose daughters would become my first housemates. On their coffee table was a pamphlet titled "As A Man Thinketh." Browsing through it, I became rather excited by its focus on grace, which seemed so at odds with the OALC, but fit perfectly with the loving, joyful spirit in that family. Emboldened, I offered to recite my graduation speech for them, a meditation on "love your enemies," which was very well received. So well, in fact, that I gave those impossibly kind parents my only written copy, confident that I could never forget the words of my first real public performance.


They are long forgotten, As was the incident itself until hp3's recent message.

hp3 said...

I attended a church that I really liked (an Assembly of God). The pastor said he refused to preach about 'details of sin.' His philosophy was that wherever your thoughts and focus were at, thats where you would end up too. (imagine that!) So instead of focusing on what NOT to do -and ending up there; he preached that you should focus on what TO DO. if you turn TOWARDS Christ you automatically turn AWAY from the world. Imagine you can only literally face one direction at a time and the opposite direction is at your back. So his focus was on turning towards Christ. That was his response to addiction, struggles with sin and how to live one's life. I loved it and have never felt so nourished in my faith and had it be so easy to commit a little less sin (I'm making no claims to perfection :)

MTH and I responded with loud amens. But what do you think?


  1. Finally! What I've never been able to put my finger on is put into words. I've been reading a book called, "Approval Addiction" by Joyce Meyer and it coincides with this topic. I never thought about only being able to go in one direction at once though. Thanks for the food for thought!
    young ex-oalcer

  2. These are wonderful thoughts. Nothing more to add because Hp3, Free and others have said it so well! Bless ya!

  3. Awesome thoughts. I love it. When we have Christ in our hearts we do not want to sin, we want to be more like him. We have love, peace and joy in our hearts. Thats why I love my church so well too (an ELCA lutheran) because they preach so much about the goodness and love of Christ and how we can be better servants to him and others instead of putting so much emphasis on the negative aspect of our sinful being. Of course we all sin and want it forgiven. Sin tears us away from God. But isn't it just so much more enjoyable when we can learn how to become better Christians and turn our focus on Christ and his love? His love is awesome!! Thanks for these inspiration thoughts. We need to focus on these more!

  4. I can see a certain resemblance to the Orthodox concept of evil being lack of goodness (=God) just like darkness is lack of light. So, the only way to eliminate evil is to be filled by God and the only way to eliminate darkness is to be filled by light. That's where the focus should be, but I don't think it means you shouldn't pay any attention to evil. The church has always, since it very beginning, made effort to point out what is good and what is evil.

  5. Many Trails Home11/01/2006 02:10:00 PM

    Theo, of course evil should be acknowledged and recognized but that's usually enough. To truly FIGHT evil is useless; whatever we fight we give energy to, and it usually gets only stronger. So much easier to just focus on the good and let God take care of the rest (as in "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.") MTH

  6. I'm not sure how I should say this but I don't believe in "evil." People who commit atrocities upon humanity that are usually labeled "evil" are mentally ill or confused (or some other mental condition that can probably be explained by science or the social environment that the person lives/lived in).

    The reaon I don't like labeling people "evil" is it induces an emotional response of fear and hatred.

    Using science to deal with troublemakers is the best option we have.

  7. Anon 8:56,

    You could be right that those we call evil are sociopaths who might not even have a real choice to do anything else. But when certain people, for whatever reason, violate our established norms and standards, evil can be a pretty useful shorthand. Evil, as used by politicians like Bush or Reagan, might be a word choice designed to promote their agendas rather than solving our problems, but I wouldn't hesitate to call the policies of PW Botha or Idi Amin evil.

  8. I saw a good one as I was leaving church today. It was posted on a wall outside of a class room. I don't remember it word for word but here is the gist of it.

    Why are Christians like pumpkins?

    God takes us and washes all the dirt off. He then reaches in and removes all kinds of gunky stuff and slime. Finally he puts a big smile on us and puts our light to glowing. I'm thankful for all the pumpkins I know.

  9. Many Trails Home11/05/2006 08:27:00 AM

    Ilmarinen, I would like to expand on what you said. I had a thought yesterday about Hitler and evil. Here in the West we usually use Hitler as the symbol of evil, as opposed to, say, Pol Pot. But where would Hitler have gotten if the German people (for the most part) had not supported him and bought into his concepts of genetic superiority etc? NOWHERE. Evil always has and always will exist in the world, and so will there always be Hitlers (even on the family level.) So pointing at one person and saying that he is the cause of widespread evil is nonsense. We are all responsible for what we contribute to the "collective consciousness." MTH

  10. The Nazi's:

    The Nazi's were homophobic. A homophobic society is one that is full of fear, hate, and anger. Social acceptance of homosexuality is a major part of being a peaceful society: a society that is full of understanding and love.

    Race has also played a huge part in wars and social unrest (as it did with the Nazis). However, as more and more interracial relationships eventually make us one race, race will no longer be an issue. (Right now, a lot of people fear interracial sex, but given our sexual drives I don't think that fear will last forever.) Also, think of the racism that used to exist between white peoples, such as the Celtic peoples, and how that no longer exists.

  11. Actually I have been reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and its a fascinating account of which the author actually participated. From what I gather, Hitler tried to overthrow the government unsuccessfully and was jailed for treason. He deternined he would set up his own "government brances" to quickly and quietly replace the existing ones and set about his quest for leadership "by the current laws." He also never had more than 33% of the countries votes. He literally killed his opponants and all thier political supporters, often in flamboyant, explosive methods. He held blackmailed "voting" sessions with several of the neccessary voting members not yet cold.

    You also have to understand the culture of Germany, a very proud nation, used to being "ruled" and still not economically over wwI. They were desperate to belive in someone.

    I agree that we cannot overlook that "We are all responsible for what we contribute to the "collective consciousness." However we also cannot overlook evil intentions in thier pure form; with disregard to the "collective consiousness" as Hitler was only vaguely honest about his intentions, or how exactly he planned to fulfill his campaign promises. (not entirely unheard of actually :)

  12. On a cheerier note I like the Christian pumpkin analogy :) I also like a song I used to hear on the radio about 'the dusty walls of my heart' and Christ coming in to 'houseclean' and the one that says 'if you see me on my knees its not because Im weak; Im getting stronger'

    Its always said that its good and neccessary for a Christian to read the bible and set aside time for Christ; yet its absolutely amazing at the positive impact in my life when I actually do just that. It sounds almost too easy, to trite and overpreached to work, but it does!

    Even though I can no longer attend the Assembly of God church with that pastor, whom I can truly see Christ in, I still receive a CD once a month with his sermans and I take time to listen to them, in addition to our current AOG church attendance.

  13. Anonymous, I think you're making a mighty long stretch on what are perhaps personal issues to say that the reason the Nazis committed the atrocities they did was because they were homophobic! The reasons for the German aggression in both World Wars as well as a long, long way back before them have little to do with homophobia. Racial differences might be a more significant element, but even that is not the answer. The region that comprises a good part of present day Germany was a part of Gaul -- and the area and it's people were well known throughout history for their warlike tendencies. They even smacked the Romans around on a fairly regular basis.

    No racism between Celts? Methinks you've never lived in that part of the world. While it's not the cross burning type we Americans tend to think of when discussing racial issues, the present day Celts (the French, Germans, Italians, and other assorted bits and pieces) don't really like each other that much and tend to look down their noses at each other. Then throw in the other folks that some opine might be of Celtic origin -- the Welsh, Scots, and Irish. (Others deride the opinion that those folks are related to each other since Gaellic and Gallic are not the same, but I digress...) One of the worst insults an Scotsman can lay on you is to ask if you're Welsh. (Been there, done that, in a bar near Ardnamurchan Point, Scotland whilst my English friend was almost rolling on the ground laughing). The United Kingdom is hardly united, with the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish all wanting autonomy, not liking each other and united only in that they pretty much hate the English. Is it rampant like we see in other parts of the world with color usually being the driver? No, but there is prejudice.

    So this has been a long bunny trail away from the discussion of whether there is true evil in the world. I believe there is, and I belive there are truly evil people, and I do not ascribe to a whitewash theory that they are victims of some sort or mentally unstable. It disgusts me to hear someone saying it really wasn't so and so's fault, because he/she had a tough childhood.

    Is Saddam Hussein evil? I think he is, and that he has clearly demonstrated that with his wholesale murder of people within and without his country. Was he a victim of some kind? I doubt it. Is he insane? I don't think so. I think he was a schoolground bully that grew up and discovered as long as he was bigger, and stronger, and had more guns, and could brainwash people into following him, killing was of no consequence to him. He taught his own children to hate and treat people the same way. To me, that's evil personified.

    To address MTH's point about a collective guilt/responsibility, I agree that the followers do not have a leg to stand on with an "I was only following orders" defense. They do share the blame and need to be prosecuted as well. However, there is always a head to the snake, and that's usually a good place to start.

  14. Please don't insinuate that I may be gay. You do not know me.

    You said that the reason that the Nazis went to war is not because they were homophobic or racist but because they had "warlike tendencies." That is circular reasoning. Also, I think the Jews and blacks were a big part of their uprising.

    The reason I want homosexuality to be socially acceptable is I do not care for violence. I believe that a society that tolerates homosexuality is a peaceful society. Take Sweden, for example, they are a peaceful society and they are very gay-friendly. Show me a gay-friendly society that is warlike. I know I can show you plenty of gay-hating societies that are and were warlike.

    Okay, maybe racism still exists between whites but I think you can agree that times aren't as barbaric as they used to be. Tarring and feathering isn't as prominent as it used to be, beheadings aren't all that common, etc.

    As far as "evil" goes, I prefer views of the world that use reasoning and sound thought rather than hopeless fear of demons. As far as troublemakers being victims, I'm suggesting that being proactive and trying to help troubled people before they can cause harm makes sense to me. I'd rather do that than wait until they cause harm and then punish them.

    No offense is meant by reply. Hope to hear from you soon.

  15. You guys have too much time to think. Why make life so hard?

  16. Oh life isn't hard -- it's just interesting, and discussions like this help us all to learn!

    So back at it -- I didn't mean to insinuate that you were gay, Anon, it just seemed that you had some sort of personal agenda that was steering you toward making a global decision based on one datapoint. I also certainly don't take any offense at your arguments, as I hope you don't take offense at mine. We're just wearing our hearts on our shoulders, and that's the way honest debate takes place.

    Sweden used to be a very warlike nation in years past. As a matter of fact one of their favorite pastimes seemed to be fighting with Russia on Finnish soil. (It was so convenient for those two countries that they could have their tussles and not mess up their own backyard, and the winner always got to rule...Finland!) Was that because the Swedes used to be homophobic? I don't think so.

    Anytime that you look at only one characteristic, you are almost surely not looking at the right answer. It's never about one thing, but rather a conglomeration of all of the "critical X's" that lead to the "Y" - the outcome. I happen to be a right wing hawk for the most part. By extension of your hypothesis, I must also be a raging homophobic, but nothing could be further from the truth.

    It's well documented that the Nazis were anti-semitic (as well as prejudiced against pretty much everyone who was not "Aryan".) However if you look at the events leading up to World War II, you find a vision existed for the Third Reich -- a world where Germany ruled, at least in Europe and western Asia. World domination was the goal, and the elimination of lesser races was going to be a consequence, not the primary objective. In other words, the racism was a symptom, not a root cause. There were those other folks engaged in WWII as well -- the Japanese. I've not heard that they are or were particularily homophobic, but they certainly went out looking for a good scrap.

    When it comes to prejudice between races, why not step a bit beyond the whites? How about the ethnic wars in Africa? Hutus and Tutsis come to mind, and the carnage they wreaked on each other. I never heard that they were all a bunch of homophobes run amok, but they sure killed off a pile of folks. Or how about the ethnic violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq? Or those little messes in Yugoslavia or Central America or Vietnam a few years ago? Those all go a little beyond tarring and feathering and all involved ethnic or political hatred.

    I respect that you'd like to live in a peaceful world. So would I. I just don't know how we could have counseled Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin or Saddam Hussein or any of the other butchers that have existed -- and still do -- and convinced them they should play nicely in the sandbox or take a time out. Until I see evidence of a successful program to do that, I'll keep voting to buy bombers to help keep the evil under control.

  17. Cvow, I read all your recent comments (getting caught up on this blog, what fun!), and I think we need to add more options: it's not an either/or, either we coax them with our love and psychology or we bomb the bejeesus out of them. The first allows them to just disagree or not listen in the first place, and the second puts many, many innocent people in the line of fire (as we've done in Iraq and call it collateral damage). I think there are ways to deal with this type of arrogant bully long before they reach a position of power where they are dangerous to the whole world. I don't think it's wimpy to want to talk to bullies if we let them know there are options and consequences -- and I don't mean sanctions! That doesn't seem to hurt those it's suppose to convince. To get back to the original position of looking toward goodness and turning our back on evil and sin in our personal lives, I think we could do something like this on a grander scale without becoming Pollyannas. I'll think on this some more....

  18. I love hp3's description! I have felt that way for a long time and have wondered why others want to focus on the evil part.

    I attended an OALC service recently. I listened intently to the LLL sermon about loving God with all your heart and it made sense. Imagine that! I just ignored the whoremonger and whiskey merchant parts (yes, they were in there) and felt I learned something. I need to go back and re-read that sermon. The actual Live Sermon, however, was so dead: neither uplifting nor dragging-down. I don't know how folks can sit through those every Sunday.

    So, hp3, I'm in your camp. Thanks.

  19. The answer for many of those war torn countries in democracy. I hope everyone is going out to vote today!

  20. What if they get democracy and unanimously vote for war? What if they get democracy and unanimously vote for theocracy? What if they get democracy and unanimously vote for totalitarism? We've seen examples of that kind of democratic development in inter-WW Germany, and I'm afraid we might see that kind of development in Iraq, too. Quite a few there want to have an Islamic state (=theocracy) just like in Iran. My point is that creating democracy is not the ultimate answer to everything, although I don't think I have a better alternative to offer either. Well, actually I think the best alternative might be to have a truly Christian and tolerant dictator, but the problem with that alternative would be that the totalitary power assigned to that truly Christian ruler would easily destroy his truly Christian and tolerant characteristics and there'd be a risk that at some point he'd be just a dictator and not truly Christian and tolerant any more. By being 'tolerant' I mean that Christianity should not be imposed on people who are not Christian as long as they are not harming other people with their un-Christian behavior.

    So I guess we'll just have to cling to democracy as the next best alternative and hope that the people will be smart enough so they won't turn the democracy into a total disaster.

  21. Dear anon:
    When have you last visited with a preacher? I went through a really bad divorce and left the OALC for a long period of time. I still hold some bad feelings because some of the family members wrote untrue things about me to help the other win custody of our children. I missed my companionship and the Christians, and it took me years to realize that all I needed was guidance. I have since been reconciled, and want to encourage all who have doubts to visit the understanding ones. There are no set "rules" only advise that is good for our Christianity. One may come to realize that hell can be what we create for ourselves in this life as well. I can never change what I did or mistakes I've made, but God is in charge here...not us. I have to say there is no love in your voice here anon...only defensiveness because of your experiences. There is only one saving faith, and you are encourageing others to flee. I fear for you. The preachers are understanding of our problems. They love us and care for us. I have been able to have hope and renewed faith even though I am still bothered by other peoples actions. We aren't perfect...that's why we need to be under the hearing of the word of God. It is not true that we are discouraged from reading the bible. When one wears their hair and clothing as a Christian is asked, then it is a confession of our faith. Sexual abuse, smoking and marital problems are problems everyone, everywhere deal with...it's not to be strictly in the OALC! If there was any truth to what you say, there wouldn't be any who come home, such as myself. The right thing for you to do is to come forward and ask forgiveness. Seek advise. As a person with many sins forgiven, I want to encourage you. Because of the condemnation I felt upon my breast, I can assure you that you do not want to feel the weight of sin upon your breast. I am blessed that God heard my cries before it was too late. Don't worry about how others will look at you or treat you...it is your soul that is saved, not your pride.

  22. Many Trails Home11/14/2006 12:47:00 PM

    Dear Anon-OALC (above): thank you for posting and giving us your perspective, which is certainly as valid as all the others and helps us to keep a balance here. We are (I think) happy for you that you found peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and that you found love and support from the preachers. It is a good reminder to us that even the OALC is good and right for some. It was for my father.

    I will agree that there is only one saving faith, but it is not restricted to or defined by the OALC, BY ANY MEANS. So we are not encouraging anyone to "flee" - unless they are looking for support because they must. I have a "saving faith" also, my dear, but I have the strong suspicion that you would see me condemned, and that is where we all on this site have HUGE ISSUES with the OALC. Many blessings to you. MTH

  23. ANON "Sun Nov 05, 10:22:36 PM PST" states:

    "As far as "evil" goes, I prefer views of the world that use reasoning and sound thought rather than hopeless fear of demons. As far as troublemakers being victims, I'm suggesting that being proactive and trying to help troubled people before they can cause harm makes sense to me. I'd rather do that than wait until they cause harm and then punish them."

    I have dealt with evil in its pure form and there is no reasoning with it, and what is considered 'sound thought' is open to interpretation. I admire your preferences, but evil does not.

    Also, most evil consideres itself 'normal' and delights in itself and its pure evilness and feels no need for 'help' and will actively fight against it, and call you evil for the attempt and accusations. Evil also often delights in avoiding 'getting caught' and normal 'punishment' and they can often 'get away' on a technicality, lack of evidence or such frustrating nonsense. And again evil seems to delight in this.

    Again my personal experiences. I wish life was the way you prefer to look at things; I would prefer that too. In fact I did until evil stripped that away. I believe evil in its pure form needs to be punished.

    Not that I am the punisher.

    I can only pray for, and work at creating light to chase away the darkness, the good to fill the space and leave no room for evil in my own heart. And keep watch for sin and evil so it does not sneak in, with me unaware. I will "fight" evil with light, on the lights terms only, for if I fight evil directly I focus my energy there and enter a losing battle as that is not my familiar territory. If I focus on God and the "light" it is not a "hopeless fear of demons" any longer, then vicory is mine -says the Lord.

  24. MTH thank you for your post to anon above.