The Journey of an Internally Displaced Adventist


(Spectrumbot) #1

I live and work in a sensitive, war-torn part of the world that daily produces refugees and IDPs. IDP stands for “Internally Displaced Person,” someone who is ripped out of a context that feels like “home” while still remaining in his or her country of origin. As a Seventh-day Adventist, sometimes I can feel like an IDA – an “Internally Displaced Adventist.” Let me explain.

Much of my growing up years were spent in ultraconservative and self-supporting (parachurch) structures. I attended a conservative self-supporting academy for four years and then attended an ultraconservative self-supporting Bible college for another four years. By the time I graduated, I had been fully indoctrinated in ultraconservatism. It is difficult to express to outsiders the profound sense of exclusive belongingness and spiritual zeal experienced by those living in a close-knit, religiously demanding cloister. Far from feeling like a burden at the time, the high demands placed upon us tended to make us feel that we had a radically important and almost heroic responsibility to defend and uphold the truth in a backsliding, sinful church (we, of course, were not sinful, because we had “the present truth”).

Through a surprising turn of events, my husband and I began working overseas for “the organized church” in 2013, a move which garnered responses such as, “be careful not to lose your spirituality.” Thus began my personal journey toward balanced spirituality as I interacted with more tolerant, less extreme Adventist Christians. The path of spiritual transformation is not always brightly lit, but at times we can look backward and see how God has been leading us precisely in the way that He knew would be best for our spiritual growth (for me, I think a few years of extreme religiosity was a mercy from God; most of my childhood friends ended up as drug addicts or unmarried mothers).

But as I take the next steps in my more balanced spiritual journey, I can’t help feeling like an IDP – an internally displaced person within my church. What “camp” do I fit in? I am not really a “progressive.” I believe in a literal, six-day creation, I believe in Ellen White as an inspired prophet, and I don’t drink caffeine. So probably I’m not “progressive enough” to fit with the progressives.

Am I a “conservative?” I cringe at the feeling of the word on my tongue – for it conjures up far too many memories I would rather forget. Memories of Ellen White being interpreted literally without regard to the context, leading to practices such as wearing long skirts (there’s a statement telling how many inches from the ground the hem should be), baking with harsh chemical substances that act as raising agents (there’s a statement outlawing the baking powder substances of the 19th century), and segregating activities by gender (there’s a statement that college students shouldn’t date). Once I learned how to read Ellen White’s statements in their historical context and search for the principle behind what she said, it felt almost unbearable to think of inserting myself back into the exclusivist pocket communities of ultraconservative Adventism. (And since I wear pants now, they wouldn’t accept me back anyways).

The next logical suggestion would be to call myself a “traditional” or “mainstream” Adventist – for, although I tend to lean toward conservative values and doctrinal positions, overall I appear to be a rather unremarkably mainstream Adventist. But yet, I still feel like an IDP amongst other traditional Adventists. My work overseas gives me the opportunity to mingle with other church workers from Europe, Asia, South America, and North America, and to see the slight variations of “traditional Adventism” from these locales. There is one thing that prevents me from fully feeling at home in their experience: the majority of mainstream Adventists cannot relate to my intense struggle to get from point A – extremist, almost cult-like Adventism, to point B – balanced, biblical Adventist Christianity.

How many women in our church had to study their Bibles for two months before feeling fully persuaded that it’s really okay to wear pants? Do most of them take this freedom for granted, or do they shop with a sense of conscientiousness to make sure the pants they buy are both “feminine” and “modest?” How many people within mainstream Adventism take that chocolate cookie for granted? Are there others who went through a months-long struggle to ascertain if the difference between caffeine and theobromine is sufficient enough to make chocolate permissible?

Did anyone else go on junk food binges after half a decade of strict sugar-free veganism, only to forcibly rein Self back in and be reminded to “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh?” How can I explain to others that yes, I do watch some TV, but I’m so painfully selective that I choose to stream rather than bother buying a television for our home? Are there others who would understand and appreciate my intense inner struggle to come out of ultraconservatism, or would they only raise one eyebrow and mutter the word “fanatic?”

My former crowd of extremist Adventists has turned their back on me. I am now too liberal to fit their exact required measurements. I don’t flaunt my lifestyle changes – but some changes will inevitably be discovered by former friends and colleagues.

Our church has its camps. We know that. One of the things that attracted me to a more flexible position was the amount of tolerance displayed by mainstream and progressive Adventists. However, sometimes tolerance isn’t enough. When I became an ultraconservative, I was eagerly coached and monitored along the way. The day I broke my secular CDs and threw them in the trash, my roommate was right there to hug me and tell me she knew how hard it was to make a change. Now, as I make changes in different directions – for example, deciding that it really does seem reasonable and biblical to swipe some foundation and mascara on my face – who is there to put an arm around me?

Is there anyone else that understands the profound sense of uncertainty – and at times even fear – when backing out of extreme positions? The appeal of fundamentalism is the promised sense of certainty. We did everything possible in order to be absolutely sure. Less extreme positions are more sustainable, but lack the self-assurance of having gone to the maximum level. I rely on Christ not only to direct me through His Word but also to be my perfect atonement, whether I get it completely right or not. And sometimes, after relying on “self” for so long, it can be a terrifying experience to rest my soul on Christ’s merits. Who understands that? Who understands the self-doubt of a former “fanatic?”

Tolerance is nice. It can give people the space they need to breathe and reassess their spiritual direction. But sometimes, tolerance isn’t enough. There needs to be a warm hand, an arm around the shoulder that lets us know there’s someone who understands the struggle. Maybe, just maybe, it will remind us that we’re not actually IDPs – internally displaced persons. Because, for all the internal chaos of our minds, with a hand upon our shoulder we will recall that in the Adventist church, we actually are right at home.

Clare Harrison works in creative evangelism for the Adventist Church in a sensitive area of the 10-40 window.

Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8615

#2

One thing that I think I have discovered these last few years is that all these variations of Christianity, fundamentalist,ultraconservative, traditional, progressive, liberal, may just be stages that people feel comfortable and spiritually fulfilled in. Maybe that is perfectly fine,it may be just what they need. One stage may not be any better than another stage. Each stage has its pro’s and cons. Each stage has it’s dangers as well. There is no best stage of life on the spiritual spectrum.

It leads me to an entirely different way of thinking about religion. I still stand up for facts and truth, but that rarely comes into play in the area of religious interpretations as that is always limited by being an interpretation and religion is not all that fact-based but belief based. It might be something to consider when feeling like an IDP.


#3

Clare, your article touched my heart. I have struggled with what you have put so eloquently into words for 20 years. I sucked in air as I read “The appeal of fundamentalism is the promised sense of certainty. We did everything possible in order to be absolutely sure. ” I have been embarrassed/ashamed of what I perceive often looks to either extreme of adventists as a hypocrite. I catch myself always questioning, judging, defending and none of it feels peaceful. I can look back and see growth and I too am thankful for some factors of fundamentalism that I was raised in, but I’m afraid too often I’m still just angry at it. How many others are there who are out there are like I was at 45 years old still terrified for Christ to come and too embarrassed to admit it out loud. Where can I still find a group of people who love the Lord that can be real and honest about things that really matter without being judged? I hate calling myself an SDA anymore because of weightiness (yes I made that word up) and emphasis of doing right and being right. Yet I still agree that the general beliefs are biblical. Thanks again for sharing your story.


(Jeremy Low) #4

I have also journeyed through the same internal struggles, though my circumstances may be different from yours. Now, I live daily with the thought that God knows what is best for those who love HIM and I do what has been prompted within myself as ways to glorify HIM.


#5

Amen.
Nor am I sure the difference between ultraconservative and liberal Christianities is that one side is less respectful of textual context than the other. I think it’s more a matter of each side imposing it’s own philosophical preferences on the text. The question is, how long will religion survive with the gradual chipping away at its dogma, and the growing repudiation of rigid orthodoxy? Will churches eventually be forced to abandon the “spiritual” component and morph into useful social institutions–like service clubs–or die? I guess we’ll see.


#6

Thank you for this. “Internally displaced” is a useful term. My story is different, yet it is the same. I don’t fully belong at church–I don’t fully belong at other settings either. The idea of a sort of mentor to nurture one is helpful, but we all know that an individual to perform that function is likely to rarely be an actuality.

There is a problem with how we are using inspired writings. How do we use the Bible? Or, Ellen White, though so very helpful, also provides many hurdles to which you refer. The way our church uses her writings-----it is not straightforward. And, sadly, it is not a given that students who attend SDA colleges will be taught how to use her writings. So, then people who read are not equipped with tools to decide what weight to put on her various edicts.

God is with you. The Holy Spirit is with you—always. My experience has been that if I watch I will see people or circumstances or events that support and encourage me. The authentic Christian journey is one that is individualized. Focusing on the life of Jesus is the North Star.

The reference to tolerance is intriguing. You highlight the limitations of tolerance. Maybe tolerance is not needed at all. Maybe what we need is respect, humility, and love.

J. B. Philips’ book—“Your God is Too Small”—helpful for displaced people.


(reliquum) #7

Indeed, who is my brother, that I should be their keeper?

Perhaps this is the final page of this earths book-and until we who claim the name learn to not be the “elder brother”, we may keep turning back time in some Bill Murray-esque “ground hog day” rerun of perpetual sequel. Surely we are not missing any deeds or doctrines (to violate before the engravers finger stopped and tablet dust settled, or ink were dry). Are we failing at the heart of the gospel-not because of the behaviors or the beliefs-but mutually inclusive identity, in spite of them??

What if the third strand of “Gods knot” is still untied, despite that Jesus came down, forgave us all for " though they do not KNOW what they DO, I brought them all back to you, Abba?"

What if we who claim to be remnant are in fact tearing apart what God put together, by virtue of our displacing, dismissing, disenfranchising of others-on the basis of what they do (or don’t do) or know (or don’t know)? What if the truth were we’re all inheritors, kin, brothers?


(Kevin Hellerud) #8

I’m sure that many have had your experience to one degree or another. Also, there are not strict walls of separation between the flavors of Adventism. A big part of the problem has been that our pioneers were externally displaced Christians from other churches. They came from a wide background and wanting to prevent what they experienced, they tried to form a church that had only a handful of landmarks, and outside of those, as long as they were not fanatical, they were free to follow the Bible according to the dictates of their conscience.

Our high points have been when we learn to work together and respect each other, a willingness to share information but allow the others to evaluate and to follow the dictates of their conscience. At our low points is when one flavor or another decided that they are the ONLY true version of Adventism and tries to force their views on to everyone else.

Also, as I said above, the walls of the different favors of Adventism are not clear cut. For example you have the label “liberal” which could apply to both those who are more like other evangelical churches, as well a those who question the literal 7 day creation. We have three major views of hell in Seventh-day Adventism (with maybe minor variations). One group believes in the literal fire as what you get with a match or volcano, it’s basically the traditional Catholic/Baptist hell only burning it self out and killing sinners in the process. A second group believes comments like “The Glory of Him that is Love will destroy the wicked” and Isaiah 33 where the righteous burn forever in the eternal fire, and thus sees the fire as the power, beauty, love, and glory of God. When Jesus was on earth people reacted two ways, some found it heaven to be with him, others found it hell to be with him. Thus at the end God treats us all the same. Those who have a relationship with Jesus (However they might understand him while on earth) will find it heaven to be with him. The others find him on the one hand overwhelmingly attractive and their deepest desire is to be with him, but they developed characters that has refused to yield to this desire. They are unforgiving and can’t see how God can forgive them and fear he will get them for their sins that they see in contrast to his purity so they pull back from the only source of life Thus God doing one act makes it either heaven or hell. The third group are the “God does not kill” group, which sees only Satan as killing in the Bible and God being completely passive at the end.

Anyway, those who tend to see God doing two different things at the end, a nice thing to nice people and a bad thing to bad people, are very focused on their legal adjustment. Sees salvation as basically a legal adjustment. About 30 years ago a crisis in the church by a group labeled “Liberals” as well as the “Conservatives” were both agreed that salvation was our legal standing and freaked out about the other views of hell. (then again they refused to admit that the second view of hell existed and classified everyone who did not believe in their view of hell as the God does not kill group.) Even a couple of months ago I wrote about the second understanding of hell in a discussion group with former Adventists in which one reacted with "I find that view of hell deplorable. We all need to know that we are saved by the work of Jesus changing our legal status.

On the other hand those with the second view of hell tend to see how the Investigative Judgment’s role is important in our coming closer to Jesus, and the “conservatives” who would side with the “liberals” on the idea of legal standing would join with us in embracing 1844

I want to encourage you to embrace the picture that our pioneers had of a church with more freedom than other churches, listen, discuss and keep on growing.


#9

@KevinH

From what I have seen in Adventism, it has grown to have more than just a handful of dos and don’ts. Of course “you are free to follow the Bible according to the dictates of your conscience”. However, the 28 FB are very encompassing and if one agrees to the doctrine of prophetic gifts (EGW) many, many lines and behaviors are settled, aren’t they?


#10

Thank you for your article, Clare!
I can very much relate to your feelings, coming from a very similar, orthodox/ supporting ministry background. I fully understand the questions around chocolate/ caffeine. It could go on: is it ok to eat cinnamon rolls? How about playing chess? Or cards? What about watching a movie or eating cheese?

While working full-time in a para-church ministry, at some point I turned to the internet and started to research on Ellen White. What I found eventually led me to study Adventist doctrines more and from a different angle than I had. Eventually, I moved from ultra-orthodox Adventist to more Bible-believing Christian. I left that ministry and later the SDA church, much to the chagrin of my family and spouse who remain ultra-conservatives. However, I did not end where EGW said that people who reject her would - throwing Christianity and the Bible overboard.

So yes, I feel very much like an internally displaced person: I hear about end-time events, sifting and shaking, prophecy and Revelation all the time but I am not a part of that very specific brand of Christianity. It makes me feel lonely - but I have Christ!


(Sirje) #11

Groups who like to micro-manage peoples’s lives, either through EGW writing’s or their own obsessive/compulsive view of what it means to “follow Jesus”, seem to operate outside the Bible promises of “freedom” and “rest”.

As was mentioned, the first generation Adventists felt a need to distinguish themselves from whatever they came from. This mindset continues as if the most important aspect of our faith is to be different from everybody else. There seems to be a sort of spiritual status to being persecuted because of those differences. This goes against the principle set forth by Jesus when he told us to go into our closet to pray and not make a big statement with our praying. There is such a thing as being proud of our humility.

This was graphically demonstrated during the Ford upheaval. The usual comment was something about losing our unique identity if we even resembled other faiths in what we say we believe - our distinctness was in jeopardy. There is a lot of arrogance that goes into being “different”.


#12

While that may be true, it must share space with the desperate effort, in doctrinal and cultural adjustments, to be similar so as to shed the old “cult” label.


(Kevin Hellerud) #13

When I was studying at Andrews I use to spend hours just browsing in the White estate. I came across a number of letters from either Mrs. White or Willie to some pastors. Since most of those pastor’s names started with the letter “W” and the correspondence sounded so similar, it took me a while to realize that it was different people. I have to confess I did not see the importance of these and I wish that I had made and saved copies.

Mrs. White or Willie would point out that despite their massive quoting of her works, that they did not understand her message. They were using her words to try to force their message on to others. And the Whites told want visions did and did not do for her. As on their side they would defend themselves accusing someone of polluting her mind against them and if she really understood what was happening that she would fully side with them instead of writing testimonies to them. Or if it was to Willie compare him to the Bible texts of Arron’s 2 sons or Samuel’s sons.

I also read documents from the early 1900s accusing Mrs. White of apostasy, that she had accepted the trinity heresy, that she no longer believed that she was a prophet but saw her writings as fallible and encouraged people to stop reading her current writings because they were messages from people like Willie or Prescott or others, maybe even a Jesuit who got into her inner circle, and if you wanted to know what she wrote that came from God to read how she is quoted by some of the ministers who she or Willy wrote those letters.

After Andrews I joined the Army and was stationed at Ft. Lewis Washington. While there I met a number of people who were reading this independent journal that they kept sharing with me. As I read them I kept finding familiar ideas, and as I checked the foot notes they would often refer to the pastors who’s correspondence I read, surprise surprise.

I’m glad that I grew up in a more moderate home (and we were shut ins from church, going when on vacation or when relatives came home for a visit). That I went to Atlantic Union College in the late 1970s where they were very open about issues with Mrs. White’s life and writing, and how the same issues are found in the Bible and there was a rejection of Fundamentalism, and a spirit of how to embrace the messages of the Bible and Mrs. White with out everything needing to be perfect.

While I find in the flavors of Adventism a strong pull to either try to become more like the evangelical/fundamentalist churches on the one hand, and a strong pull to the views of the people who Mrs. White and Willie wrote those letters to on the other; I also find in it the freedom to not be bound to fundamentalism/dispensationalism or the sticky sweet Jesusie view of a number of evangelicals. I love Mrs. White’s philosophy of the issues of the great controversy (which archaeology has shown was very much in the mindset of the writers and early readers of the Bible but are not a part of our world view so we miss the connection), the 3 roles of trinity, the law of God being self sacrificing love, and loving the world as Jesus has loved it. The beauty of God’s love, how this is attacked by the 3 deceptions of Satan, how we have two attitudes contempt and respect fighting in us, how the life of Christ answers the 3 deceptions and the 3 angels proclaim that message, and how God finally deals with people, both saved and lost at the end of time.


(Eugene Prewitt) #14

Dear Clare,

Blessings from one part of the 10-40 window to another. I have a few thoughts for you. First, the dividing line between the sheep and goats will be faith that works by love. Practically, that means sheep are both widely loving and thoroughly obedient. In Christian Service you find that your work of evangelism is an essential aspect of keeping up the love part. “Visit your neighbors in a friendly way, and become acquainted with them… Those who do not take up this work, those who act with the indifference that some have manifested, will soon lose their first love, and will begin to censure, criticize, and condemn their own brethren.” p. 115. What you may or may not have perceived is that this law of life is very active across every spectrum of Adventism. (In other words, highly conservative persons who don’t reach out personally and progressive Adventists who don’t reach out personally, both become censorious.) The thing that I hope will always keep you away from what is termed “progressive” is its disastrous unbelief. Romey, in one of his replies to your article, says he hasn’t ended where Ellen White said he would end in his journey. My thought for him is that he isn’t done with his journey yet, and he is not too far out for u-turns (Romey, if you see this, at audioverse.org I have a series of six sermons answering probably most of the objections you found to EGW when you did your study.). Unbelief is, by nature, progressive. Now regarding your former heart-sickening experience, let me opine that you might be surprised how many of your previous staff and fellow students were, even as you struggled, already at the place where you currently have arrived. I mean, ten years after graduation from Hartland or Ouachita Hills, few ladies have a pants-only concept of dress reform. And few staff at those places hold such a view even currently. Why is it that the 6000 year idea of earth history has such sticking power, but the dresses-only message doesn’t? It is because one idea is plainly taught by prophets and the other is loosely inferred. Faith clings to one and loosens its grip on the other. Now on health (my final point here), the mission field will help you a great deal I hope. Our health message (even in its most detailed form avoiding stimulants and spices generally) is downright attractive when presented to Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, etc., as part of a great whole that leads to a better life. When I lecture to health guests about these things, it is never as “you should obey” but rather as "here is the info you have been looking for all your life on how to sleep better, have peace, avoid the flu, reverse diabetes, stave dementia, etc. Any other approach ruins the right arm and makes it lame. To see it working, visit Aenon in Malaysia next time you have a break, where shorts and chocolate won’t even be noticed, much less raise eyebrows. We have a guest room for you. Be faithful, --Eugene Prewitt


(jeremy) #15

I wouldn’t worry about what label you fit into…all that matters is an intelligent, vital mind and heart connection with christ, as revealed in the bible through the prism of egw and any future prophet…

the truth that I’ve seen and felt over and over again is that those who truly take up the cross of self-denial, whatever the cost, will find themselves increasingly shunned by those who don’t, irrespective of whether they’re conservatives or progressives…the battles between conservatives and progressives in adventism are a pathetic side show…the true followers of christ are rising above this and everything else around them…circumstances are being allowed in their lives that chisel away at all the earthliness they’re born into, and grow up in…when they finally rise in the ascension at the second coming, it will only be a natural sequence to what is happening in their minds and hearts now…

there is the reality that over 95% of the adventist church is lost - and that was 125 yrs ago, ChS:41…why fret over whether you fit in with what isn’t going anywhere…

this really is the bottom line…even though we know that the church, as a whole, isn’t going to make it, we still do what we can, wherever we find ourselves…we still support what is good and true…we still reach out and try, as best we can, to make a difference in the little corner we’re in…

ultimately, we draw courage from the knowledge that jesus was an IDA, not only in his church, but in his biological family, as well…there’s no running away from this particular trial for any of the people of god…


(Cfowler) #16

I think I’ve found your new evangelistic campaign slogan…

"More than 95% of our church members are lost…come join our doomed congregation!:grinning:


(Jack Hoehn) #17

Sir your idea that “unbelief is progressive” may or may not be true, but it apes Ellen White’s oft repeated message that “Truth is progressive.” Or in another place she reminds us that we will have many many things to “unlearn” and many things to learn. All growing Christians coming from a womb of conservative certainty into God’s real world of ambiguity and challenge will be progressively unlearning many of our beliefs, but also progressive accepting new and better ways of living in our Father’s wide and very open world.-- n Claire thank you for your true and open exploration of what you are experiencing. We are with you just at different times in the progressive unbelief and progressive truths journey.
Jack Hoehn


(Eugene Prewitt) #18

Truth is progressive in the sense that the church as a body discovers, over decades and centuries, larger portions of the big picture revealed in Scripture. It is a growth in understanding of the prophets based on a belief in the factual nature of their writings. Unbelief is progressive in the sense that an individual who begins doubting a prophetic teaching (as a higher critic) will, most generally, find more and continually more writings to be doubtfully factual. And the very critical skills that fell the White tree do, when used in a larger forest, bring down Moses (or the four authors) and Daniel and Luke and finally, lead to the discrediting of the Bible. So what R hasn’t done yet is apply his new-found skills more widely. But at some point, it is likely that he will unless he has just stubbornly decided “here I come and no farther.” For all the stabs taken at conservative ideas at spectrum, yours is one of the best. “Conservative certainty” is just what Abraham lived by when at 90 years of age with a laughing spouse he chose to believe his legitimate offspring would become numerous. And that “conservative certainty” (featured in Romans 4) was highlighted by heaven as being the condition on which justification was dispensed. Faith is, as you indicate, the opposite of unbelief. (My memory is fuzzy on this, but I think I might have met you once in the spring of 1990 when I and a classmate from Oklahoma Academy visited Enterprise Academy to share our canvassing experiences.)


(Herold Weiss) #19

No doubt, your experience is one shared by many who find themselves identified with the fellow believers and know that Christianity must be lived in a community of faith. They are also quite aware that when it comes to doctrines, which do not operate in the realm of faith but in the realm of knowledge, they have room for an open dialogue within which doctrinal understandings can be talked about freely, and questions of life-style are left open to cultural and other considerations.
I spent my childhood in Uruguay, where there is separation of church and state, and my adolescence in Argentina where the Catholic Church is established, and other denominations need to be registered in the Ministry of Religion and Worship. If your church is registered the state tolerates your existence and regulates the public activities which your church is allowed to perform.
This experience gave me a clear sense of the distinction between tolerance and freedom. In the USA, I have been surprised to see people think that tolerance is a wonderful thing. It is not.
As the Apostle Paul insists, Christians have freedom in Christ. Not tolerance.


(James Peterson) #20

You echo the emotional conflict of born again ex-Mormons and ex-Witnesses.

SDA share the same radical type of theology with LDS and JW. They are NOT cults per se, but they do drive unfounded fear of the outside (disquiet in the free association with others) into the minds of their adherents. As an example, look no further than Eugene Prewitt:

SDA are a mere 18 million EGW believers among “3 billion Christians” – “3 billion Christians” who have not discarded the Bible as the foundation of their faith. Therefore, Eugene Prewitt is lying to you; not that he is lying to himself, but that he is giving voice to a different spirit than he imagines himself to be doing. As Romey testifies:

There are even more testimonies at Former Adventist Fellowship. Not that I am affiliated with them, but they do provide a sure and solid refutation of the cultic claims of SDA like Mr. Prewitt’s.


Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, cried out against the creeping institutionalization of cultural norms as salvific and necessary practices. To them, he said, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col. 2:20-23)

Contrasted with that “appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion” is the far and away better path to which he points: " … but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Gal. 5:22-25)

But every child coming out of its mother’s womb, will cry. At first. And every speaker approaching the microphone will panic. At first. Those are the moments when they step out before the world. Alone. The thrill of the first experience is in the fear of the unknown; but no one grows unless they exercise their faith, unless they begin their journey with that single step forward.

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